Tenstorrent founder reveals new AI chip startup Taalas with $50 million in funding

Startup says one of its chips can hold an entire large AI model without requiring external memory.

Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) chip development startup Taalas has launched out of stealth with $50 million in funding.

The startup said the $50 million was raised across two rounds led by Quiet Capital and Pierre Lamond, who is an advisor at Eclipse Ventures. According to a report from The Information, the funding comprises a $12-million fundraise closed in September 2023, and a recent $38-million fundraise last month.

Founded in 2023, Taalas is developing what it calls an automated flow for quickly implementing specialized chips that can each run different AI models. The startup claims one of its chips is capable of holding an entire large AI model without requiring external memory, adding that by using hard-wired computation, it can allow a single chip to outperform a small GPU data centre, which could dramatically decrease the cost of AI hardware development.

“We believe the Taalas ‘direct-to-silicon’ foundry unlocks three fundamental breakthroughs: dramatically resetting the cost structure of AI today, viably enabling the next 10 to 100x growth in model size, and efficiently running powerful models locally on any consumer device,” Matt Humphrey, partner at Quiet Capital, said in a statement. “This is perhaps the most important mission in computing today for the future scalability of AI.”

Taalas was founded by CEO Ljubisa Bajic, the founder of Tenstorrent, as well as Drago Ignjatovic, and Lejla Bajic, who were early engineers at Tenstorrent. 

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Tenstorrent, which builds computers designed to train and run AI models, closed $100 million USD in funding in August 2023 from investors like Samsung. That round came eight months after Ljubisa Bajic stepped down as CEO, switching roles with then-CTO and president Jim Keller. According to his LinkedIn, Ljubisa Bajic left the company in March 2023, and has been working as the CEO of Taalas since September of that year. 

While Lamond was listed as an independent investor in Taalas’ funding rounds, Eclipse Ventures, where he serves as an advisor, has previously backed Tenstorrent, including the company’s August fundraising.

“Making chips is a difficult and risky endeavour in which success requires experience, ingenuity, and persistence,” Lamond said in a statement. “Taalas’ founders have produced numerous cutting-edge chips and systems. Their track record in the industry is second to none.”

Taalas said it plans to make its first chips available to early customers in the first quarter of 2025.

Feature image courtesy Unsplash. Photo by Igor Omilaev.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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