Intel scoops up Vertex.ai to bolster Movidius team, support AI efforts

Intel sees huge potential in AI and has been repositioning via acquisitions and corporate restructuring to focus on the technology.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Intel this week quietly bought artificial intelligence startup Vertex.ai, makers of a portable deep learning engine called PlaidML. The acquisition lines up with Intel's product roadmap and efforts to win the AI chip war.

Seattle-based Vertex was founded three years ago and just released its core product last October. PlaidML is a developer tool for deploying AI models on multiple device types, including Windows, Linux and MacOS.

Vertex.ai's seven-person team is set to join the Movidius team under Intel's Artificial Intelligence Products Group. Movidius develops VPUs that support deep learning inferences at the edge.

A note on the Vertex homepage said the startup will work to "support a variety of hardware" and integrate PlaidML with Intel's nGraph machine learning backend. Vertex will continue to develop the PlaidML as an open source project under the Apache 2.0 license, the company said.

"With this acquisition, Intel gained an experienced team and IP to further enable flexible deep learning at the edge. Additional details and terms are not being disclosed," Intel said in a statement.

Intel sees huge potential in AI and has been repositioning via acquisitions and corporate restructuring to focus on the technology. In terms of acquisitions, the tech giant has scooped up Altera, Nervana Systems, and Movidius, to name a few. Internally, Intel also established its dedicated AI group led by Naveen Rao, former CEO of Nervana, as well as an AI lab for advanced research and development.

Meantime, Intel is also executing a three-point strategy for coming out on top of the AI chip war. This includes bringing in more talent and new technologies via acqusitions (hello, Vertex) and bolstering its product portfolio with an array of systems for different enterprise needs. System integration is the third part of Intel's strategy, Gadi Singer, VP of Intel's Artificial Intelligence Products Group, told ZDNet in a recent interview.


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