Advanced Micro Devices, commonly known as AMD, announced on Tuesday that it will be acquiring artificial intelligence (AI) startup Nod.ai as part of an effort to bolster its AI software capabilities.
Nod.ai is a software company that builds open-source technologies for AI and machine learning systems. The Santa Clara, California-based tech startup specializes in a technique called “reinforcement learning” that trains AI models to interpret their environment, take actions, and learn via trial and error method where desired behaviors are rewarded and undesired ones are punished.
AMD Set to Add AI Startup Node.ai to its Rooster to Go Up Against Rivals Nvidia
The acquisition is part of AMD’s “AI Growth Strategy”, where the company plans to invest heavily in critical software that is necessary for powering its advanced AI chips to catch up to its main rival, Nvidia.
While AMD had a revenue decline of 18% in the second quarter of 2023, Nvidia saw its year-on-year revenue grow more than 100%, mainly due to the rising popularity of AI-powered systems.
In an interview with Reuters, AMD president Victor Peng said the company had made a promise to itself to invest in and build a “unified collection of software” to power the various chips it manufactures. In order to achieve this goal, AMD is seeking internal investments as well as external acquisitions.
Node.ai Acquisition is Part of AMD’s “AI Growth Strategy”
The reason why AMD is buying Nod.ai is because the startup’s technology fits into the chip maker’s strategy to deploy machine learning and AI models into its processors more easily. Large data center operators are one of Nod.ai’s main clients.
AMD has not disclosed the terms of the deal or how much it would cost. The acquisition is expected to be finalized this quarter. Recently, Nod.ai raised $36.5 million from investors in a funding round that was participated in by venture capital firms such as Menlo Ventures and Sequoia Capital.
The AI tech startup will be housed within AMD’s artificial intelligence group, which employs about 1,500 software engineers. The chip giant has plans to expand the team with 300 additional hires by the end of this year.
What is Node.ai?
Nod Labs started life in 2013 as an AI hardware company that focused on building Bluetooth-connected, gesture-recognition, and motion-tracking-enabled wearable gaming rings.
The CEO of Nod Labs, Anush Elangovan was a member of the first Chromebooks team at Google and also worked as lead engineer at Cisco. Meanwhile, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Harsh Menon, previously worked at electric aircraft company Kitty Hawk, which was backed by Google co-founder Larry Page.
A spokesperson for AMD said Nod.ai’s team of industry experts are known for their “substantial contributions” to open-source AI software and deep expertise in AI model optimizations. Also adding that the deal “augments” AMD’s AI software development capabilities.
The Nod.ai acquisition is the AMD’s second in the past few months. Peng said the chip manufacturer is constantly looking for ways to bolster its portfolio with additional acquisitions.