Intel just spent approximately $2 billion to acquire Israel-based AI firm Habana Labs. The partnership will "turbo-charge" Intel's AI offerings for data centers, Intel said in a press release.
Habana Labs makes programmable deep learning accelerators. Its Gaudi AI Training Processor, for instance, is expected to deliver up to four-times the throughput of systems built with the equivalent number of GPUs. For mobile and web-based apps that use Intel's AI data center offerings, the acquisition will, ideally, lead to faster and more accurate AI for features like photo and speech recognition.
Intel hopes to use its AI capabilities to do things like reconnect damaged spinal nerves in paralyzed patients and create wheelchairs that can be controlled with facial expressions. It has experimented with neuromorphic chips, or AI chips that mimics the human brain, and it says its ultra-efficient AI chips can power everything from prosthetics to self-driving cars.
AI has become an increasingly important part of Intel's business. In 2019, the company expects to generate over $3.5 billion in AI-driven revenue -- that's more than a 20 percent year-over-year increase. And just last month, Intel unveiled its first chips built for AI in the cloud, as well as its next-gen computer vision chip. The Habana acquisition could give those chips a boost as well.