AI analog chip startup Mythic is cash-strapped, exec says

AI analog chip startup Mythic is cash-strapped, exec says

A startup that bet on the old concept of analog chips to deliver energy-efficient AI computing is running out of capital.

Texas-based Mythic “ran out of track with investors before we could generate revenue,” Ty Garibay, the startup’s vice president of engineering, said in a LinkedIn post Tuesday. Garibay and several other Mythic employees said on social media that they are looking for new jobs.

Garibay said Mythic has developed a “unique new technology” that promises to deliver performance-per-watt and performance-per-dollar gains for cutting-edge AI. However, that apparently wasn’t enough to give the 10-year-old company the traction it needed to keep money flowing from investors.

Mythic CEO Mike Henry did not respond to a request for comment.

Mythic operated in a crowded AI chip market that remains largely dominated by general purpose chips (GPUs) versus custom cores in the data center and edge. It hasn’t helped that the global economy is weakening, raising the prospect of a recession in the near future.

These factors are testing the financial stability of AI chip vendors, which raised billions of dollars from venture capitalists in 2021 as the economy began to slow.

For example, UK firm Graphcore said in September that it expected job cuts due to an “extremely difficult” macroeconomic situation. The following month, The Times reported that investors had cut its valuation by $1 billion in the face of financial difficulties, including a terminated deal with Microsoft.

Also in October, Habana Labs, an Intel-owned artificial intelligence chip company, reportedly laid off about 10% of its workforce, representing a loss of about 100 jobs.

Future of Mythic’s analog chips up in the air

garibay said The register that Mythic’s management team has decided not to discuss the company’s status at this time. However, he left open the possibility that there was a future for Mythic’s analog matrix processors (AMPs), for which he said there was no “comparable solution in the industry”.

“I believe Mythic’s technology will ultimately be very successful, and I am personally deeply disappointed that I cannot pursue this development myself,” he said in an email. “Right now, my goal is to get the great engineers on my teams into good new roles as quickly as possible.”

Mythic has touted its AMP chips as the best option for cutting-edge AI devices in a variety of markets, arguing that the digital chips made by most AI chip designers cannot meet the “high requirements for size, performance, and energy consumption”. “

The startup’s chips are available in a variety of form factors, including a standalone processor as well as an M.2 PCIe card and a standard PCIe card. A year ago, the upstart said its MP10304 PCIe card, powered by four M1076 AMP chips, was capable of delivering up to 100 trillion operations per second of AI performance while using just under 25 watts of power. .

Mythic turned to analog chips – used for computers decades ago before digital circuits became fashionable – trying to figure out how to bring the processing elements of memory as close as possible, a challenge that many chip designers are trying to solve to improve performance and efficiency.

By using analog chips instead of digital chips, Mythic was able to take the concept of “in-memory computation to the extreme” and “compute directly inside the memory array itself,” according to the company.

“This is possible by using the memory elements as tunable resistors, supplying the inputs as voltages and collecting the outputs as currents,” Mythic said on its website.

Garibay said Mythic proved its point at the AI ​​Hardware Summit in September, where the company showcased analog chips capable of running the YOLOv5 object detection algorithm on high-resolution video at 60 frames per second. while consuming only 3.5 watts.

“I’m extremely proud of what our team has achieved by taking a concept that almost everyone in the industry thought was impossible to implement and integrating it into a real working silicon product,” he said. declared.

Last year, Mythic raised a total of $165.2 million from investors including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and New York investment giant BlackRock. ®

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