Silicon Valley startup SambaNova offers new AI system, triples previous system speed

Marshall Choy, senior vice president of product at AI chip company SambaNova, shows the startup's latest chip SN30 that is three times faster than its previous product and used for artificial intelligence applications in the datacenter in Palo Alto, California, U.S. in this handout image taken in September 2022. SambaNova/Handout via REUTERS

Sept 14 (Reuters) - SambaNova Systems, a SoftBank-backed Silicon Valley artificial intelligence chip and systems startup, said on Wednesday it has started offering its new AI system called DataScale SN30, tripling the speed of its previous product.

The startup is one of several AI chip companies competing with Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) which dominates the AI market. Part of SambaNova’s strategy has been to offer a powerful chip with a software platform that makes it easier for companies without AI expertise to start using AI in their business. SambaNova offers both the hardware and software as a subscription.

“For enterprises, your value's in your data. What we...are trying to do is take this very complex aspect of the problem and we're offloading that for you,” said Rodrigo Liang, SambaNova co-founder and CEO.

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Gartner’s AI infrastructure analyst Chirag Dekate said Nvidia is starting to face competition from startups such as SambaNova as well as from AI offerings by Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O) and Inc's (AMZN.O) cloud businesses.

“If you're trying to increase productivity of your data scientists, if you're trying to increase the throughput of your of your deep learning ecosystem, then a SambaNova like ecosystem suddenly starts becoming more of a serious contender,” he said.

While the subscription model could potentially put a heavy financial burden on SambaNova as it would own the hardware, the company has raised over $1 billion with its latest valuation last year at $5 billion.

Matt Eastwood IDC’s senior analyst for cloud and enterprise infrastructure said computer hardware firms are gravitating to that model to compete with the cloud.

“For the supplier like SambaNova, it just means that rather than having this lumpiness in the revenue stream quarter to quarter as deals land and come in, they can build a smoother, more predictable revenue stream that investors will find attractive,” he said.

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Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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