Tenstorrent, the Toronto-based semiconductor company, now led by the super-star chip designer Jim Keller, has just opened a new office in Japan. So, as many other AI startups are struggling, Tenstorrent is doubling down. We believe this telegraphs the company’s intention of leveraging two of the fastest-growing areas into a differentiator for the company: RISC-V and AI.
The company has some executive roots in Japan, having hired David Bennett, former CEO and President of NEC Personal Computers, as its Chief Customer Officer. Tenstorrent has now recruited Mamoru Nakano, former head of Graphcore Japan, to lead the new business, where his background in AI and HPC (Cray and HPE) makes him well suited for the new role.
Tenstorrent is different from the rest of the field and may have a higher probability of success. First, the company has a software strategy that encourages open-source community innovation. Second, Tenstorrent is the only startup with both AI accelerator and RISC-V CPU designs and ambitions. Finally, Tenstorrent has attracted a world-class engineering team, and the company is now led by perhaps the industry’s best-known CPU designer, Jim Keller.
“Tenstorrent is poised for a breakout year, and hiring Mamoru Nakano shows how serious we are about succeeding Japan,” said Jim Keller. “AI and RISC-V are both at pivotal points of growth in Japan, and having Nakano at the helm gives me confidence that we are on the right track to succeed there. I am excited to support our customers in Japan by attending Japan’s RISC-V Conference in May to deliver a keynote there.”
Presenting the RISC-V keynote in Japan tells us all where Jim’s head is. And his heart. While the AI processors Tenstorrent has developed look quite strong, the market for RISC-V servers could be where Jim is intent on establishing the combination of the two hottest trends in the industry: RISC-V and AI.