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What to know about Mistral AI: The company behind the latest GPT-4 rival

Mistral AI has been in the news constantly because of its latest models, partnerships, and more. Here's everything you need to know.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Mistral Ai Le Chat
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Recently, you may have gone from never hearing about Mistral AI to seeing the AI startup all over your news feed. That is because, in the past week, Mistral announced a partnership with Microsoft, an integration with Amazon Bedrock, and it even released its latest AI models. 

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If you are wondering what the company has to offer and how you can take advantage of its models, keep reading for the answers to these questions and more. 

What is Mistral AI?

Mistral AI is a French artificial intelligence startup. The company, co-founded by former Meta employees Timothée Lacroix and Guillaume Lample, and former DeepMind researcher Arthur Mensch, is fairly new. It launched in April 2023. 

What does Mistral AI offer?

Mistral AI has developed and released several AI models for different user needs, with both commercial and open models. 

Its open AI models, which are available for free with a fully permissive license, include its original Mistral 7B transformer model, its smaller original model fluent in English with an 8K content window, and its most capable open model, Mixtral 8x7B with a 32K context window fluent in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, code, according to the website. 

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Its commercial models, Mistral Small, Mistral Embed, and Mistral Large, which were just added this week, serve different purposes, varying in costs, and workload capabilities. Mistral Small and Mistral Large are fluent in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and code and have a context window of 32K tokens. Mistral Embed is only available in English for now and is designed for extracting representation of text extracts.

This week, Mistral also unveiled Le Chat, its chatbot available for free in beta. The chatbot can use Mistral Large, Mistral Small, or Mistral Next, a prototype model, which users can toggle between. Mistral AI does warn that it does not have access to the internet. To access it, all you have to do is sign up for the beta.

How can I access Mistral AI's offerings?

You can access Mistral AI's open and optimized models via its website. It is worth noting that these models are geared towards developers since they are meant to be integrated into building your own AI applications. So despite its advanced skillset, if you are hoping to access an AI tool like ChatGPT, these models aren't for you. Rather, compared to OpenAI's offerings, it would be the equivalent of accessing its APIs. 

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Mistral AI did however recently launch its own AI chatbot in beta -- Le Chat. The chatbot functions much like ChatGPT, serving as a conversational assistant that can provide useful responses to many different prompts. A stand-out characteristic of the chatbot is that it is multilingual, and capable of understanding different languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian, making it more accessible to the wider public. 

How do Mistral AI's models compare to OpenAI's and other competitors?

On Monday, Mistral unveiled its latest, most capable, flagship text generation model, Mistral Large. When unveiling the model, Mistral AI said it performed almost as well as GPT-4 on several benchmarks, and ahead of other leading language models such as Claude 2, Gemini ProGPT 3.5, and LLamA 2 70B, as seen in the image below. 

Mistral Large
Mistral AI

Mistral Large is fluent in English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian, whereas GPT-4 can only understand English, another factor setting it apart and making it a strong competitor against OpenAI's most capable model, which until now has remained generally undefeated. 

Who does Mistral AI have partnerships with?

Microsoft recently announced a multi-year partnership with Mistral AI. In the announcement, Microsoft did not reveal how much money the partnership was for. However, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft disclosed the investment amounted to $16.3 million. This investment is especially noteworthy because Microsoft also has invested a large amount of money into, OpenAI, reportedly $10 billion over multiple years. 

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Even though it is not a partnership, it is worth highlighting that Amazon announced Mistral 7B and Mixtral 8x7B will be available soon on Amazon Bedrock.

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