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Abu Dhabi-backed chipmaker Cerebras plans IPO

UAE AI tech major G42 said it was 'doubling down on Cerebras' after trying its CG1 supercomputer Cerebras
UAE AI tech major G42 said it was 'doubling down on Cerebras' after trying its CG1 supercomputer
  • US contender valued at $4bn
  • G42 hails Cerebras supercomputer
  • Race is on to compete with Nvidia

Cerebras Systems, an Abu Dhabi-backed chipmaker looking to compete with Nvidia, the world’s top chip company by market value, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering, according to reports.

Based in California’s Silicon Valley, Cerebras is also planning to offer preferred shares at a significant discount, aiming to attract private investors before the IPO, The Information reported. 

In 2021, Cerebras raised $250 million in a Series F funding round led by Alpha Wave Ventures, Abu Dhabi Growth Fund and G42, the AI tech holding company backed by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, among others.

The funding round valued Cerebras at $4 billion.

AI technology is widely held to be critical to developing global influence and expanding high-growth industries.

The high-performance chips it uses – known as graphics processing units (GPUs) – process large amounts of data much faster than traditional computer components.

The computer power the GPUs provide is critical to powering applications such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a large language model (LLM) that has become a household name.

US-based chipmaker Nvidia, now worth over $3 trillion and the world’s most valuable company, dominates the market for GPUs, holding a 95 percent market share.

AMD, the company’s US rival, and other chip manufacturers have made significant strides in GPU technology, but Nvidia’s GPUs are preferred by many developers and organisations.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are big buyers of Nvidia chips.

But last year Andrew Jackson, CEO of Inception, a G42 subsidiary that developed a 13 billion-parameter Arabic and English LLM, told AGBI the company is “doubling down on Cerebras” after using its supercomputer Condor Galaxy 1 (CG1). 

“We are massive fans of Nvidia and we have been their largest customer in the region,” Jackson said.

“But we’re also very open to trying new things. We have run on other hardware and when we got access to CG1 we saw a dramatic speed-up in terms of our training time.”

According to Cerebras, CG1 can support up to 600 billion parameters and can extend up to 100 trillion (a parameter is the value used to configure a learning algorithm).

This makes it one of the largest AI supercomputers in production.

Cerebras, which was founded just nine years ago, is known for its unconventional approach to AI technology, particularly with its single-chip system that spans an entire wafer. 

This novel method has positioned Cerebras as a formidable contender in high-performance computing.

However, Nvidia maintains an edge over other AI-focused semiconductor firms with its highly developed software for GPUs and a robust developer community. 

The IPO filing comes during heightened US-China tech tensions. Washington has imposed restrictions aimed at curbing China’s access to advanced semiconductors.

Sales of Nvidia chips are already curtailed in China and Russia, and the Biden administration has blocked sales of some of Nvidia’s most valuable products to the Middle East to prevent onward sale to China and to limit Middle East links to Chinese companies.

Last year, OpenAI also held talks to raise funding for a new chip venture with G42.

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