Untether AI to collaborate with semiconductor giant Arm on smart vehicle solutions

Untether says its energy efficient architecture is needed to support next-gen vehicles.

Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductor startup Untether AI has announced a partnership with Arm that will see the two implement their semiconductor technology into software-defined vehicle (SDV) solutions. 

The partnership will see Untether’s inference acceleration technology, which helps AI chips run more efficiently, implemented alongside Arm’s own vehicle-focused technology for SDVs. 

An SDV is a vehicle that uses software to manage its operations and add specific functionalities and features, according to BlackBerry. Untether said the aim of the collaboration is to address performance, power, safety, and security requirements in autonomous vehicles (AV) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS entails vehicle features such as lane centring, perimeter sensors, and parking assistance, among others. 

Arm’s vice president of automotive products and solutions, Suraj Gajendra, said in a statement that the increase in ADAS, AV, and advanced user experiences requires diverse levels of compute in vehicles. 

“By collaborating with Untether AI to ensure our leading edge [Automotive Enhanced]  technology can work well alongside Untether AI’s acceleration capability, we are enabling our partners to power cutting edge AI workloads across the vehicle,” Gajendra said. 

Founded in 2018 by Martin Snelgrove, Darrick Wiebe, and Raymond Chik with the goal of developing chips designed to help AI workloads “run faster and cooler,” Untether AI claims to have developed what it calls a “chip architecture for neural net inference.” 

The startup says its technology can reduce the distance data must travel to the absolute minimum, eliminating the cost of moving data to processors, which traditionally dominates energy consumption.

RELATED: Untether AI names Intel veteran Chris Walker as its new CEO

In January, Untether appointed its president and a former Intel leader, Chris Walker, as CEO. Walker replaced Arun Iyengar, who led Untether for most of its existence. The AI chip company said Iyengar would continue to support the firm during the transition. 

“Untether AI will continue to focus on pioneering inference acceleration and establishing deep partnerships to make AI happen at the edge and enable more efficient deployment of generative AI in the future,” Walker said following his appointment. 

Walker also joined The BetaKit Podcast in February to talk about coming out of retirement to lead Untether’s “scaling moment” and the need to raise additional capital. 

To date, Untether AI has raised more than $200 million CAD ($152 million USD) in funding, including a $125-million round in 2021. The startup’s backers include Intel, Tracker Capital, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Radical Ventures.

By partnering with Arm, a Softbank-backed company, Untether has connected with arguably one of the top players in the semiconductor space. Since Arm’s September IPO valued the company at $54 billion USD, its market cap has since eclipsed $125 billion USD, according to Google Finance

A number of major semiconductor players, including Apple, Nvidia, and AMD have switched their chips from Intel to Arm architecture. The company claims chips using its instruction set often use significantly less power.

Untether said it has developed an understanding of SDV needs for the collaboration with Arm, and that its neural network inference delivers the energy efficiency needed to support next generation SDV technology. 

Feature image courtesy Untether AI.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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