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Syntiant raises $25 million in Series B funding to develop speech processors for edge devices


Artificial intelligence semiconductor company Syntiant Corp. announced that it has raised $25 million in Series B funding to support its development of low-power, high-performance deep neural network processors for edge computing.

The funding round was led by Microsoft’s venture fund M12, with participation from the Amazon Alexa Fund, Applied Ventures, Intel Capital, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. Syntiant will also expand its board of directors with the appointment of M12 Managing Director Samir Kumar, and SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen, who will serve as an independent director.

Syntiant is developing neural decision processors (NDPs) free from the constraints of legacy processor architectures, according to the announcement. The NDPs use an analog neural network to offer extreme memory efficiency and massively parallel computation for power use degrees of magnitude lower. The technology enables always-on deep learning inference in battery-powered devices from hearing aids to smart speakers, and is capable speaker identification, audio event detection and sensor analytics.

“We are both humbled and excited to be supported by several of the world’s greatest technology companies,” said Kurt Busch, CEO of Syntiant. “With participation from existing and new investors, and deeper guidance from our expanded board with the additions of Samir Kumar and Bret Johnsen, we will be able to commercialize Syntiant’s neural network technology for battery-powered devices to truly enable pervasive artificial intelligence.”

“Syntiant aligns perfectly with our mission to support companies that fuel voice technology innovation,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund at Amazon. “Its technology has enormous potential to drive continued adoption of voice services like Alexa, especially in mobile scenarios that require devices to balance low power with continuous, high-accuracy voice recognition. We look forward to working with Syntiant to extend its speech technology to new devices and environments.”

Kumar and Johnsen will join Busch, Syntiant CTO Jeremy Holleman, and Intel Capital Senior Director Sunil Sanghavi on the company’s board.

Moving biometric and other demanding processes to the edge has been an area of focus for several companies lately, including NXP Semiconductors, which recently launched an edge intelligence software environment for developers.

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