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

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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.”