Intel Corporation has agreed to Habana Labs, an Israel-based developer of programmable deep learning accelerators for the data center for approximately $2 billion.
The combination strengthens Intel’s artificial intelligence (AI) portfolio and accelerates its efforts in the nascent, fast-growing AI silicon market, which Intel expects to be greater than $25 billion by 2024.
“Habana turbo-charges our AI offerings for the data center with a high-performance training processor family and a standards-based programming environment to address evolving AI workloads,” Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Platforms Group at Intel, said.
Intel AI solutions are helping customers turn data into business value and driving meaningful revenue for the company. In 2019, Intel expects to generate over $3.5 billion in AI-driven revenue, up more than 20 percent year-over-year.
Habana will remain an independent business unit and will continue to be led by its current management team. Habana will report to Intel’s Data Platforms Group, home to Intel’s broad portfolio of data center class AI technologies.
Habana chairman Avigdor Willenz has agreed to serve as a senior adviser to the business unit as well as to Intel. Habana will continue to be based in Israel where Intel also has a significant presence and long history of investment. Prior to this transaction, Intel Capital was an investor in Habana.
“We have been fortunate to get to know and collaborate with Intel given its investment in Habana, said David Dahan, CEO of Habana.
Habana’s Gaudi AI Training Processor is sampling with select hyperscale customers. Large-node training systems based on Gaudi are expected to deliver up to a 4x increase in throughput versus systems built with the equivalent number of GPUs. Gaudi is designed for efficient and flexible system scale-up and scale-out.
Additionally, Habana’s Goya AI Inference Processor, which is commercially available, has demonstrated excellent inference performance including throughput and real-time latency in a highly competitive power envelope.
Habana, an AI processor firm, was founded in 2016 and has offices in Tel Aviv, San Jose, Beijing and Gdansk, Poland. It has raised $120 million to date, including $75 million in a funding round led by Intel Capital last year.
Nvidia outbid Intel last March to buy Israeli chipmaker Mellanox for $6.9 billion, boosting its data-center chip business.
Willenz sold chip designer Galileo Technologies to Marvell Technology Group for $2.7 billion in 2001, and Annapurna Labs to Amazon for an estimated $370 million in 2015.
With five facilities, Intel already has a significant presence in Israel and has become one of the country’s top exporters since launching operations there in 1974.
The California-based chip giant moved its automotive technologies headquarters to Jerusalem after buying Mobileye for $15 billion in 2017. It is investing $11 billion to expand its local chip factory and also launched a tech accelerator in Israel in June.