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Syntiant announces $35M funding for edge AI chips after shipping 1M units

Syntiant announces $35M funding for edge AI chips after shipping 1M units
 

Syntiant Corp., the maker of small, energy efficient voice and sensor chips, has completed a $35 million C series investment round.

On the same day executives announced the private placement, they boasted about having shipped more than a million always-on NDP100 (pictured above) and NDP101 microwatt chips. Syntiant’s meta marketing theme is putting cloud AI and machine learning functions in edge devices.

The chips are always powered up, which, combined with biometric voice recognition software, means devices react to voice commands very quickly. Typically, that rapid response to voice commands means linking to cloud resources. That slows response and increases exposure to bad actors.

The news items are notable first because venture fund managers have been sheltering in place since COVID-19. Second, because 1 million is a satisfying shipping mark for a deep learning company that was booted up just three years ago.

M12, Microsoft Corp.’s corporate venture fund, and Applied Ventures LLC, the corporate VC fund of Applied Materials Inc., led the latest round. Also participating were Atlantic Bridge Capital, Alpha Edison and Miramar Digital Ventures — all new Syntiant investors.

Although the company has not said how it will use the funds, a good bet would be pouring fuel on shipment growth. In a release touting the placement, the company states that it expects orders to continue climbing this year.

The microcontrollers in question, the NDP100 and NDP101, are being installed in mobile devices from earbuds to laptops. The 100, for example is a 1.8 mm by 1.4 mm speck scarcely bigger than Lincoln’s ear on a penny. It consumes just 140uW as it processes.

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