Intel introduces an AI-oriented processor

There are a number of efforts involving artificial intelligence (AI) and neural network-oriented processors from vendors such as IBM, Qualcomm and Google. Now, you can add Intel to that list. The company has formally introduced the Nervana Neural Network processor (NNP) for AI projects and tasks. 

This isn’t a new Intel design. The chips come out of Intel’s $400 million acquisition of a deep learning startup called Nervana Systems last year. After the acquisition, Nervana CEO Naveen Rao was put in charge of Intel’s AI products group. 

“The Intel Nervana NNP is a purpose-built architecture for deep learning,” Rao said in a blog post formally announcing the chip. “The goal of this new architecture is to provide the needed flexibility to support all deep learning primitives while making core hardware components as efficient as possible.” 

He added: “We designed the Intel Nervana NNP to free us from the limitations imposed by existing hardware, which wasn’t explicitly designed for AI.” 

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