AI chip startup Cerebras Systems raises $250 million in funding

Nov 10 (Reuters) - Cerebras Systems, a Silicon Valley-based startup developing a massive computing chip for artificial intelligence, said on Wednesday that it has raised an additional $250 million in venture funding, bringing its total to date to $720 million.

The Cerebras chip is about the size of a dinner plate, much larger than the chips it competes against from established firms like Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) or Intel Corp (INTC.O). Cerebras has designed the chip and worked closely with its outside manufacturing partner, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2330.TW), to solve the technical challenges of such an approach.

Andrew Feldman, chief executive and co-founder of Cerebras Systems, said much of the new funding will go toward hiring. The company has expanded with offices in Canada and Japan and has about 400 employees, Feldman said, but aims to have 600 by the end of next year.

Even though Cerebras relies on an outside manufacturer to make its chips, it still incurs significant capital costs for what are called lithography masks, a key component needed to mass manufacture chips. Cerebras is working to transition from TSMC's 7-nanometer manufacturing process to its 5-nanometer process, where each mask can cost millions of dollars.

"This funding is dry power to continue to do fearless engineering to make aggressive engineering choices, and to continue to try and do things that aren't incrementally better, but that are vastly better than the competition," Feldman told Reuters in an interview.

Cerebras said the new funding round values it at $4 billion. The round was led by Alpha Wave Ventures, along with Abu Dhabi Growth Fund. The company's existing investors include Altimeter Capital, Benchmark Capital, Coatue Management, Eclipse Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures and VY Capital.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Nick Macfie

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