The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but various news media report the deal to be valued at $350 million or more.
Intel’s move is a strong signal of the growing focus on artificial intelligence systems across the technology landscape, from startup companies to venture capitalists and now mature tech giants.
The purchase is also a fast and sizable exit for the investors of the 2.5-year-old startup, including Data Collective Venture Capital, DFJ and others.
“It’s not that often in a VC career you get to work with teams you’re sure will be featured in documentaries about how major industries changed — Nervana’s talented and driven founders and employees are such a team,” said Matt Ocko, managing partner at Data Collective (DCVC), in the press release. “DCVC was privileged to back Nervana in its mission to make transformative AI capabilities as ubiquitous and seamless as Internet access. We can’t wait to see their next set of breakthroughs, delivered at even greater speed, with Intel behind them.”
Nervana aims to enable the rapid scaling of artificial intelligence to disrupt a range of industry verticals, according to their website. They do this using a machine learning technique known as deep learning that uses huge data sets to train and improve its algorithms over time.
“Their IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms will expand Intel’s capabilities in the field of AI,” wrote Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel, in a blog post.
She noted that “Intel processors power >97% of servers deployed to support machine learning workloads today.” The acquisition “will advance Intel’s AI portfolio and enhance the deep learning performance and TCO of our Intel Xeon and Intel Xeon Phi processors.”
Intel's acquisiton comes during a busy week for technology startup acquisiton. Earlier this week, Walmart purchased Jet.com for $3 billion, and on Augst 5 Apple announced its acquisiton of a machine learning startup of its own, Turi. Details of the Apple deal were not disclosed.