AMD yesterday acquired Nod.ai, an open source AI software provider, as the chipmaker looks to bolster its efforts to build an ecosystem of AI development tools, libraries and models around its hardware.
The acquisition is expected to close this quarter, CNBC reports. AMD didn’t disclose the details of the transaction.
In a press release, AMD SVP Vamsi Boppana said that the Nod.ai acquisition will “significantly” enhance AMD’s ability to provide customers with “software that allows them to easily deploy highly performant AI models tuned for AMD hardware.”
“The addition of the talented Nod.ai team accelerates our ability to advance open-source compiler technology and enable portable, high-performance AI solutions across the AMD product portfolio,” Boppana said. “Nod.ai’s technologies are already widely deployed in the cloud, at the edge and across a broad range of end point devices today.”
Nod.ai, based in Santa Clara, was co-founded in 2013 by Anush Elangovan and Harsh Menon. Elangovan was part of the first Chromebooks team at Google and a lead engineer at Cisco. Menon previously worked at Kitty Hawk, the now-defunct electric aircraft company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page.
Nod.ai initially sought to build gaming-focused devices for gesture recognition and motion tracking. But it eventually pivoted to AI model tooling, building modules to reduce the need for AI developers to manually optimize and deploy AI models to run across data center and edge machines — including AMD-powered machines.
AMD rival Nvidia offers similar software-based solutions for accelerating AI models. But they’re largely closed-source, proprietary and designed to work with the company’s own GPUs.
Nod.ai had raised over $20 million in venture funding prior to the AMD acquisition, including from Atlantic Bridge, Square Capital, PointGuard Ventures and Walden International. Alameda Research, the cryptocurrency firm co-led by disgraced entrepreneur and FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, reportedly participated in a Nod.ai funding round. But in December, Elangovan told the Financial Times that Nod.ai “[wasn’t] a recipient of FTX/Alameda funding.”
“At Nod.ai, we’re a team of engineers focused on problem solving — quickly — and moving at pace in an industry of constant change to develop solutions for the next set of problems,” Elangovan, who serves as Nod.ai’s CEO, said in a press release. “Our journey as a company has cemented our role as the primary maintainer and major contributor to some of the world’s most important AI repositories. By joining forces with AMD, we will bring this expertise to a broader range of customers on a global scale.”
Nod.ai will join the AI group that AMD created earlier this year, which employs about 1,500 engineers at present. The group’s expected to be expanded by around 300 employees by the end of the year as AMD races to catch up with Nvidia in the exploding market for AI chips.