Intel and VCs form Articul8 to push chip giant's AI kit and IP

'Independent' biz unsurprisingly uses in Xeon and Habana, and patent libraries

In the latest bid to push its AI portfolio, Intel has teamed up with investment firm DigitalBridge to form a software spin-off specializing in the deployment of machine learning and large language models (LLMs).

Dubbed Articul8, the deal, announced on Wednesday, will create an independent software services shop using Intel's IP library. This, Intel claims, will make it easier for businesses to securely train and run models based on their enterprise data.

The Articul8 platform can be deployed on-prem, in the cloud, or some mashup of both. As one might imagine, the startup is a vehicle to push Intel's suite of AI hardware, including its Xeon processors and Habana Labs Gaudi accelerators as tuned for Intel software stacks.

At the helm is Arun Subramaniyan, who previously headed up Intel's Datacenter and AI Cloud Execution and Strategy team and, before that, led Amazon Web Service's extreme-scale computing division.

Intel has been pushing its Xeon Scalable processors as an alternative to pricy AI accelerators for inference workloads. As part of its 5th-gen Xeon launch last month, the company demonstrated the ability to run smaller LLMs, like Meta's Llama 2, on dual socket Xeon platforms.

However, Articul8 will also "support a range of hybrid infrastructure alternatives." And on its website we see Nvidia listed as one of the supported hardware vendors.

The latter is almost certainly a requirement for customers looking to train generative AI models in the cloud. Despite Intel's performance claims and improving software stack, Gaudi2 hasn't enjoyed the same level of adoption among the major cloud and and GPU-for-rent providers.

This situation could change with the launch of Intel's Gaudi3 accelerators later this year, but for now the market for generative AI hardware is still dominated by Nvidia accelerators, with AMD coming on strong.

But, as we've previously discussed, Intel has invested heavily developing open runtimes, like SYCL, to allow code run across multiple accelerators with minimal fine tuning.

According to Intel, Articul8's underlying technology has already been extensively tested by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for some time now.

"We have deployed Articul8 products for multiple clients seeking production-ready platforms with rapid time to market, said Rich Lesser, global chair of BCG in a canned statement.

Non-chip backers for the startup include DigitalBridge, which is listed as the lead investor. Meanwhile a slew of other VC firms — Fin Capital, Mindset Ventures, Communitas Capital, GiantLeap Capital, GS Futures, and Zain Group — will hold an equity stake in the biz. ®

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