SiMa.ai, an AI chip firm, has raised additional $30 million to fund its expansion

Startups creating dedicated CPUs to boost AI workloads on-premises are reaping the advantages as demand for AI-powered apps surges. The AI edge chip industry is flourishing, according to a recent ZDNet article, powered by “staggering” venture capital funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars. EdgeQ, Kneron, and Hailo are just a few of the dozens of startups battling for clients. The last of them, Hailo, raised $136 million in October to expand its business.

SiMa.ai, which is creating a system-on-chip platform for AI applications, notably computer vision applications, is another firm fighting in the increasingly crowded market.

SiMa.ai began demoing an accelerator chipset in 2019 after emerging from stealth, combining “conventional compute IP” from Arm with a new machine learning accelerator and dedicated vision accelerator, all connected through a proprietary interconnect.

SiMa.ai today concluded a $30 million Series B investment from Fidelity Management & Research Company, with participation from Lip-Bu Tan (who will join the board) and earlier investors, laying the framework for future expansion. SiMa.ai’s total capital raised now stands at $150 million.

“The funding will be used to accelerate scaling of the engineering and business teams globally, and to continue investing in both hardware and software innovation,” founder and CEO Krishna Rangasayee told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The appointment of Lip-Bu Tan as the newest member of SiMa.ai’s board of directors is a strategic milestone for the company. He has a deep history of investing in deep tech startups that have gone on to disrupt industries across AI, data, semiconductors, among others.”

Rangasayee spent the majority of his career in the semiconductor sector, most recently as the GM of Xilinx’s whole business. Rangasayee, an engineer by trade who formerly served as the COO of Groq and led product strategy at Altera, which Intel purchased in 2015, claims that the gap he found in the machine learning market for edge devices inspired him to launch SiMa.ai.

SiMa.ai’s challenges remain mass manufacturing its chips affordably — and beating back the many rivals in the edge AI computing space. (The companys says that it plans to ship “mass-produced production volumes” of its first chip “sometime this year.”) But the startup stands to profit handsomely if it can capture even a sliver of the sector. Edge computing is forecast to be a $6.72 billion market by 2022, according to Markets and Markets. Its growth will coincide with that of the deep learning chipset market, which some analysts predict will reach $66.3 billion by 2025.

“Machine learning has had a profound impact on the cloud and mobile markets over the past decade and the next battleground is the multi-trillion-dollar embedded edge market,” Tan said in a statement. “SiMa.ai has created a software-centric, purpose-built … platform that exclusively targets this large market opportunity. SiMa.ai’s unique architecture, market understanding and world-class team has put them in a leadership position.”