Intel is continuing with its massive tech acquisition spree. The American chipmaker announced yesterday, that it is spending $2 Billion in acquiring Israeli AI chipmaker Habana Labs. More specifically, Habana Labs is the developer of programmable deep learning accelerators for data centers.
Talking about the acquisition, Navin Shenoy, Executive VP of the Data Platforms Group at Intel said, “This acquisition advances our AI strategy, which is to provide customers with solutions to fit every performance need – from the intelligent edge to the data center. More specifically, Habana turbo-charges our AI offerings for the data center with a high-performance training processor family and a standards-based programming environment to address evolving AI workloads.”
For Intel, the acquisition is a clear sign of the urgency that it has in terms of leapfrogging in the AI race. The company missed out badly on mobile, where Qualcomm dominates the industry. And in terms of laptops/desktops as well, despite the dominance that Intel has enjoyed for sometime, competitors like AMD are making significant gains. Hence, when it comes to AI chipmaking, Intel clearly wants to stay ahead of the competition by acquiring a company that is already doing fairly well in the nascent-but-poised-to-grow AI chipmaking industry.
In 2019, Intel expects to generate over $3.5 billion in AI-driven revenue, up more than 20 percent year-over-year. The company feels that combining with Habana can accelerate the delivery of best-in-class AI products for the data center, addressing customers’ evolving needs.
Habana will remain an independent business unit and will continue to be led by its current management team. Habana will report to Intel’s Data Platforms Group, home to Intel’s broad portfolio of data center class AI technologies. This combination gives Habana access to Intel AI capabilities, including significant resources built over the last three years with deep expertise in AI software, algorithms and research that will help Habana scale and accelerate.
Habana chairman Avigdor Willenz has agreed to serve as a senior adviser to the business unit as well as to Intel. Habana will continue to be based in Israel where Intel also has a significant presence and long history of investment. Prior to this transaction, Intel Capital was an investor in Habana.