I love following Tenstorrent. The Canadian-based firm started as a YAACC (Yet Another AI Chip Company), until Jim Keller’s entry cemented the firm’s strategy to provide a wide range of advanced computing IP and products, from AI accelerator to RISC-V IP and products. But it takes a lot of funding and partnerships to execute such a grand vision, and the company is currently enjoying an over-subscribed funding round.
Jim and his new team have just closed a $100M strategic financing up-round led by Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung Catalyst Fund, with participation from Fidelity Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Epiq Capital, Maverick Capital, and more.
Investors must like what they see: a company led by one of the brightest minds in processor design applying his skills in two of the most important trends in computing: AI and RISC-V. And by becoming a partner of Tenstorrent, they can form strategic alignment, becoming an active participant in the company’s operations to ensure a deeper involvement.
These new partner investors also bring industry-specific expertise and networks to the table, which can be invaluable in helping the company navigate challenges and seize opportunities. Adding to the momentum that started with a deal with another Korean company, LG, in May, the company has now formed strategic partnerships with leading consumer products and automotive companies. And Samsung also provides leading edge semiconductor fabrication services as well, should Tenstorrent be looking for options.
“The trust in Tenstorrent shown by Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung Catalyst Fund leading our round is truly humbling,” said Jim Keller, CEO of Tenstorrent. “It has been impressive watching Hyundai Motor Group become the third largest automaker in the world through their aggressive adoption of technology including their acquisition of Boston Dynamics, their joint venture with Motional, and now their investment in us.”
“Samsung has long been a leader in the electronics industry and they are the ideal partner to co-lead this round,” continued Keller. “We are excited by the opportunity to work together.”
”Samsung Catalyst Fund invests in disruptive ideas that we believe can change the world,” said Marco Chisari, EVP of Samsung Electronics, Head of Samsung Semiconductor Innovation Center. “Tenstorrent’s industry-leading technology, executive leadership, and aggressive roadmap motivated us to co-lead this funding round. We are excited by the opportunity to work with Tenstorrent to accelerate AI and compute innovations.”
As we have previously covered, Tenstorrent provides RISC-V, AI, and combined CPU/Accelerator technologies. And it isn’t clear who wants what in their nascent ecosystem. Tenstorrent is quite agile, however, and can get a foothold with each technology while eyeing opportunities to expand those design wins with adjacent IP.
RISC-V is riding high these days, as the Arm ecosystem evaluates alternatives while the company begins to flex its licensing muscles in preparation for an IPO. Tenstorrent and the RISC-V community see this as an opportunity, to be sure. Large Arm partners, like Hyundai and Samsung, are likely to be initially interested in Tenstorrent’s AI IP. But if companies seek an alternative to Arm, or as RISC-V provides an integrated solution with Tenstorrent AI accelerator, then Tenstorrent would make an ideal company to have in your corner.
This could also be the beginning of a new era in the AI semi industry. Instead of buying off-your-shelf standalone accelerator chips designed to compete with NVIDIA, large conglomerates are heading down a different road. At least two of the three (LG and Hyundai) are licensing SOTA IP from Tenstorrent and then building their own bespoke hardware solution for a specific use case. We suspect Samsung is on a similar path; its all about how chiplets are enabling high performance domain-specific SOCs.