Nervana Systems, a San Diego based outfit that has been causing some chatter with its Deep learning applications initiatives, has managed to grab a $3.3 million series A round of venture capital.
Deep learning has been touted as the next breakthrough in machine learning and has recently aided in fields of computer vision and text analysis. With deep learning being applied more and more, there is an inevitable need for compatible hardware with specialised design to accommodate the types of neural networks on which it’s based and large scale data crunching.
Nervana has yet to reveal the intricacies of its new deep learning computing system. Experts believe that it is working with something other than GPUs or processors to the likes of IBM’s SyNAPSE.
Nervana chief executive and co-founder Naveen Rao told Gigaom, “We’re building a fundamentally different kind of computer. Deep learning/neural nets have given us the mathematical framework to break apart an estimation problem into many nodes. In addition, [deep learning] doesn’t need very precise computations at each node. So, we can actually exploit these features and build a computer that’s much more brain-like (but NOT neuromorphic). This will solve real-world problems and allow the scale of DL to go to the next level. Our approach to deep learning is also quite novel in that we can co-optimize the hardware and algorithms.
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“We are also writing a software library to take in high level descriptions of neural nets and target them to various hardware platforms, including our own,” Rao said. Prototypes should be available to customers in the coming six months he noted.
Deep learning startups have been acquired by Google and Twitter in the recent past but new ventures keep popping up and Nervana sees a lot of positive competition in the near future such as Ersatz Labs’ work on deep learning software and hardware, and deep learning software-focused startups like Skymind and Clarifai.
The funding round was led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson with participation from Allen & Co., AME Cloud Ventures, and Fuel Capital.