GrAI Matter Labs BV (GML BV), which started just three years ago, is putting its efforts into the development of very efficient Artificial Intelligence chips. Even though its technology has not yet been fully productized, GML is already talking to various companies that are looking for alternatives to existing chips. Those firms are eagerly waiting for GML’s fast and ultra low-power technology.
Over the years, chips used in devices such as cars, medical equipment and cameras have become intelligent, (re)active and self-learning. Those features require a lot of computing power. In Eindhoven, GML researches and develops chips that have been inspired by the human brain. Our brain becomes smarter the more it learns, like a baby’s brain until the age of about 25 years. In addition, GML’s AI technology is so-called ‘on edge’, which runs in a device rather than in the cloud.
“The brain is the most efficient computer,” says Menno Lindwer, GML’s Vice President of IP and Silicon. The company’s name, GrAI Matter Labs, is a reference to the grey substance of the brain. “With our brain we can do things that no other computer in the world can.” Lindwer, who heads R&D in Eindhoven, calls GML’s approach ‘a break-through technology’. Two years ago, High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, where GrAI Matter Labs is based, labeled them ‘one of the most exciting’ startups of the Campus.
The brain consists of neurons and synapses. Neurons actually are tiny calculation units and our brain has about 80 billion of them, with each of them having hundreds of connections to other neurons. At present, it is not yet possible to put 80 billion similarly connected units on a chip. In terms of power the brain consumes about 20 Watt, less than a laptop processor, Lindwer explains. That is why GML is creating neuromorphic, brainlike, processors.
GML’s critical innovations need to be protected, with many such inventions continuously being patented. These patents are mostly related to data and neuroporphic processing, but also to new neuron models and image classification. Such procedures typically take several years until patents are granted.
The ties of GML’s employees with the Technical University of Eindhoven (TUe are also strong, because many of them come from the region, many studied there and all have worked in high tech. At least a third of the new recruits has graduated from TUe, explains Lindwer, who also studied at this university.
“People that graduate from TUe aren’t scientists with fluffy stories. They are innovative people, but with a real engineering background that know how to make a product”, Lindwer says. “They don’t just look at that one technical solution. Most people that graduate from TUe have a broader view.”
Also part of the ecosystem in and around Eindhoven is the BOM, which has helped GML in many aspects. The BOM has organized events to inform GML about the ecosystem. The contacts from these meetings have eventually led to new customers for the company. Also, the BOM has made it easier for GML to get work permits for some of its new hires and it has facilitated access to cash. In past years, GML has secured funding of over €25 million by itself.