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Canadian AI start-up Tenstorrent expands its footprint in Japan

Tenstorrent, a Canadian start-up known for its work on artificial intelligence (AI) accelerators and RISC-V processors, has made a full-scale entry into the Japanese market. The company, founded in 2016, is primarily active in the United States and has raised $230 million in Series C funding, with around 260 employees. CEO Jim Keller, a renowned hardware engineer with experience at AMD, Apple, and Intel, assumed the role of President, CTO, and Director in January 2021.

The processor and accelerator design firm offers AI accelerators as individual chips, PCIe cards, and servers, as well as chiplet design IP that combines with V processors. In January 2023, Tenstorrent Japan was established as a subsidiary, with Mamoru Nakano, former president of Graphcore’s Japanese subsidiary, appointed as president.

According to Nakano, Japan is being positioned as the company’s second market development location, with plans to establish bases in Asia and Europe in the future. As interest in RISC-V grows, Tenstorrent aims to offer its RISC-V processor IP in Japan, targeting applications such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), in-vehicle infotainment, and electronic control units (ECUs) in the automotive sector.

Tenstorrent’s AI accelerator architecture, based on Tensix Core, comprises a memory and operation engine, a communication network engine, and five small RISC-V cores. The processors Grayskull and Wormhole are currently available in the market, and the company plans to announce two more accelerators, Black Hole and Quasar, in late 2023/2024.

The company is also working on software improvements, introducing a bare-metal programming model called TT Metal. Nakano highlights Tensix Core’s ability to handle small to large-scale AI accelerators with a single architecture, supporting applications from 30W or 70W to several megawatt levels.

For RISC-V processors, Tenstorrent has designed the Ascalon processor, with a prototype expected to be unveiled by the end of 2023. The high-performance processor is designed for enterprises, targeting high-performance computing (HPC) and servers, with instruction decoding widths ranging from 2-wide to 8-wide.

Tenstorrent’s solutions extend beyond AI accelerators and RISC-V processors, with the ability to integrate other companies’ FPGAs and memories as chiplet IP. The firm also targets the automotive sector, offering evaluation boards and machines for automotive applications.

With its expansion into the Japanese market, Tenstorrent aims to leverage its expertise in AI accelerators and RISC-V processors to tap into the growing demand for advanced computing solutions in various industries.

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