Investors are embracing Optical AI

Last week Boston-based start-up Lightmatter announced a $22million investment round led by Google Ventures into the development of their photonic chip-based Optical AI technology, bringing it’s series A funding up to $33 million. This followed the announcement last year of a $10million fund raise by competing company Lightelligence, led by Chinese giant Baidu.  Both companies are focussed towards optical AI methods which calculate the the matrix multiply operations that form the basis of today’s deep learning neural networks, using light, rather than electricity.

Silicon-based processing is facing the fundamental problem of Moore’s Law breaking down. Optalysys is addressing this problem with its revolutionary optical processing technology - enabling new levels of AI performance for high resolution image and video-based applications.

The technology is being developed to accelerate some of the most demanding processor-intensive tasks at a fraction of the energy consumption of silicon processors. It can be programmed through the API or Tensorflow interface to perform optical correlation and convolution functions to unlock new levels of AI and pattern recognition capability.

The Optalysys technology also uses photons in place of electrons, but crucially performs high resolution calculations that enable large image/pattern-based data to be processed at speeds far faster than in silicon. By exploiting the properties of diffractive optics, the Optalysys technology can offer something unique in the AI space - a scalable processor that can perform end-to-end, full-resolution processing of multi-mega-pixel image and video data, or contextually pre-process data for boosting the performance of existing Convolutional Neural Network (CNN)-type models for high-resolution data applications.

CEO and Founder, Dr Nick New, said

It is a really exciting time in optical computing. We are seeing a surge in interest in optical methods, which are needed to provide the next level of processing capability across multiple industry sectors. We are on the verge of an optical computing revolution and it’s fantastic to be leading the way.



Optalysys applies its groundbreaking optical co-processing technology to next generation weather forecasting algorithms

YORKSHIRE, U.K. - 26th OCTOBER, 2018 -Optalysys Ltd. (@Optalysys), an innovative technology company developing light-speed optical AI systems announced the successful completion of the next generation weather forecasting project led by ECMWF. 

Optalysys was part of a major European consortium led by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and involving 10 other organisations. The project, known as ESCAPE (Energy-efficient Scalable Algorithms for Weather Prediction at Exascale) aimed to prepare numerical weather prediction algorithms and climate models for new computing architectures leading to exascale computing with a focus on energy efficiency.  

The project successfully achieved breakthrough advances in computing efficiency by developing the concept of “weather and climate dwarfs”.  These dwarfs are functional units in the weather forecasting models which are optimised for processor memory access and data communication.  

CEO Dr Nick New said “It has been a privilege to work on such an important and ground-breaking project. Our work has demonstrated that some of the most computationally intensive dwarfs may be mapped on to our optical processors to provide significant advantages over conventional silicon technology or GPUs for these tasks”.

The three year project which started in 2015 was awarded a €4m grant under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. 

About OPTALYSYS

Optalysys is developing Optical Computing Platforms, which enable a quantum leap into new levels of processing capability. Delivered at a fraction of the cost with a vastly reduced energy consumption compared with conventional computers. Its first coprocessor is based on an established diffractive optical approach that uses the photons of low-power laser light instead of conventional electricity and its electrons. This inherently parallel technology is highly scalable and is the new paradigm of computing.

 

Optalysys awarded ISO 9001 certification

YORKSHIRE, U.K. - 25TH SEPTEMBER, 2018 - Optalysys Ltd. (@Optalysys), an innovative technology company developing light-speed optical AI systems today announced it had been successfully awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification.

ISO 9001:2015 is an internationally recognised standard that ensures products and services meet customer needs through an effective quality management system.

CEO Dr Nick New said “Our decision to pursue ISO 9001 accreditation demonstrates our commitment to provide high quality and consistent products that deliver exceptional value to our customers”.

Optalysys underwent a thorough evaluation process that included quality management system development, documentation review, pre-audit and final assessment.

About OPTALYSYS

Optalysys is developing Optical Computing Platforms, which enable a quantum leap into new levels of processing capability. Delivered at a fraction of the cost with a vastly reduced energy consumption compared with conventional computers. Its first coprocessor is based on an established diffractive optical approach that uses the photons of low-power laser light instead of conventional electricity and its elctrons. This inherently parallel technology is highly scalable and is the new paradigm of computing.

Press Contacts:

Emma Blaylock

Optalysys Ltd

Emma.blaylock@optalysys.com

+44 1977 551615

August 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to the August 2018 Newsletter – your regular update on the latest developments in optical computing. In this edition we cover that we successfully implemented the world’s first convolutional neural network (CNN) using optical processing - Presenting our technology at the Artificial Intelligence conference COGX in London.

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SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2wBDUtQ

 

China’s Xinhua Tech interviews Optalysys CEO, Dr Nick New.

Read Xinhua Tech Interview

Please note this interview is in Chinese.

 

See below translation provided by Optalysys

Optalysys Optical Computing Solutions will Illuminate the Future of Artificial Intelligence

Xinhua Tech
24th July 2018

 

If there is one factor in modern society that defines the progress of all countries in the world; then it is their world ranking in science and technology. When it comes to the hottest technology of the moment, artificial intelligence is definitely the most disruptive technology of the century. In recent years, artificial intelligence has become closer to our lives. Voice assistants, face recognition, intelligent transportation, autonomous vehicles, etc. all show the existence and power of artificial intelligence. However, as the amount of global data continues to increase, processing power of computers lags behind. High-performance computing and energy consumption have become the biggest bottlenecks for artificial intelligence.

Founded in 2013, Optalysys is a start-up from Cambridge University and the first company in the world to develop optical computing and obtain patent certification. Optalysys' optical co-processors have implemented an image-based deep learning model, known as Convolutional Neural Networks. These operations are currently performed serially by electronic processors and use multiple Tensor Cores for low resolution operation. Optalysys' optical technology enables these operations to be performed in parallel at the speed of light, increasing the speed of both training and running these networks. This is an excellent solution for applications that require high-speed processing of large amounts of image data, including autonomous driving, medical image analysis, and security systems. So far, even the fastest electronic processors can't do this.

Nick New, founder and CEO of Optalysys, said: "The field of artificial intelligence has grown rapidly in recent years, and the biggest challenge is how to efficiently improve data processing capabilities to meet the needs of various industries. China is in a leading position in the field of artifical intelligence technology, and this technology is widely used in people's lives. However, in order for artificial intelligence to reach its full potential, there need to be major innovations in the processing technology currently used. Traditional silicon technology processing tasks are faced with both processing speed and energy consumption challenges. Therefore, the optical artificial intelligence solution provided by Optalysys has become the best solution to get rid of this dilemma."

Nick New continues: "The image-based deep learning model is extremely computationally demanding. We use optical processing technology instead of electronic processing technology. By combining the most advanced liquid crystal microdisplays available today with the huge parallel processing power of light, Optalysys' technology provides game changing processing power at a fraction of the power of electronic processing technology. In this way, we can produce low-power optical processors and can be applied to many fields. This technology is extremely scalable. Our first optical co-processor system offers more processing power than a top-of-the-line graphics card, and consumes only a quarter of the power. Our next system will be more than 300 times faster, and this is just the beginning."

Like many startups, Optalysys encountered many challenges at the beginning of its creation. At present, the field of artificial intelligence still relies on electronic technology. For the disruptive technology provided by Optalysys, it is necessary to change the way people think. Optalysys is focused on providing seamless connectivity to optical processors, which enables developers to easily adapt their code to run on the systems. Nick New said: "The ease of use of the product is of key importance to professionals in the entire industry."

China is the largest application market for optical computing and one of the most important markets for Optalysys. Currently, Optalysys is negotiating with a number of Chinese investment companies and technology companies to establish a strategic partnership to enable products to be produced in China and quickly placed on the market. When talking about the outlook for the Chinese market, Nick New said: "Our goal is to enable our technology to benefit cloud systems, server systems, local servers and mobile/embedded systems. We see China as a key part of our future.”