Samsung Ventures Eyes Israeli AI, It’s A NeuReality
Cloud is ubiquitous. The globally distributed nature of the computing backbone created by the planet’s datacenters and the neural IT hubs in between form a practically ubiquitous network of interconnectivity and access to compute power and data services.
This reality has had a levelling effect.
Given the ability to access massively scalable computing resources from almost anywhere (Yemen and Equatorial Guinea still struggle to connect), where there is human ingenuity, new things happen. This has meant that a new breed of Silicon Valleys (plural) have sprung up everywhere from London to Utah to the UAE to Israel and across India.
An AI eye on the Holy Land
Throughout the Holy Land in particular, homegrown technology development from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv has been particularly strong in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Championing a huge swathe of the development in this space is OurCrowd, a dedicated Jerusalem-based global venture investment platform organisation led by enigmatic straight-talking CEO Jon Medved.
OurCrowd is now backing NeuReality, an Israeli AI systems and semiconductor company (for the second time), alongside a new injection of support and interest by Samsung Ventures. But this is not an investment and funding story, this is a story that concentrates on how smart NeuReality is being with so-called ‘inference technologies’ (a component of an IT system that applies logical rules to any given knowledge base to deduce new information) i.e. such as computer vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and recommendation engines.
NeuReality works to make these system elements easier to implement for a broader set of less technical companies.
More than just chips
Claiming to be more than just a chip company, NeuReality’s solution includes hardware, software and tools that work together to simplify and accelerate AI deployment. The company currently employs more than 30 engineers and other staff and plans to double its size and recruit talent in VLSI chip design, AI, software and hardware.
“We see a substantial and immediate need for higher efficiency and easy-to-deploy inference solutions for datacenter and on-premises [cloud] use cases. The company’s disaggregation, data movement and processing technologies improve computation flows, compute-storage flows and in-storage compute – all of which are critical for the ability to adopt and grow AI solutions,” said Ori Kirshner, head of Samsung Ventures in Israel.
The adoption and growth of AI solutions face various obstacles, which prevent retail, manufacturing, healthcare and other sectors from deploying AI inference capabilities into business workflows. This challenge, clearly, is what NeuReality is aiming to fix with its core technology proposition.
Systems-level i.e. complete package
While the company is new, NeuReality’s team draws from decades of experience in AI, datacenter systems, hardware design and software development. As a result, NeuReality uses a ‘system-level approach’ (a more holistic view of trying to create a complete functioning product or service to make mass deployment easier) that combines software with high-efficiency deep learning and data handling acceleration hardware.
Focusing on the growth of real-life AI applications, NeuReality’s solutions are purpose-built for a wide variety of sectors including public safety, e-commerce, social networks, medical and healthcare, digital personal assistants etc. Its solution targets cloud and enterprise datacenters, alongside carriers, telecom operators and other near-edge compute solutions.
NeuReality signed an agreement with IBM to develop high-performance AI inference platforms dessigned to deliver good cost and power consumption improvements for deep learning use cases. NeuReality is also collaborating with chipmaker AMD to deliver its first-generation AI-centric FPGA-based (Field Programmable Gate Array) platforms for inference acceleration to customers.
NeuReality is also creating purpose-built AI platforms for ultra-scalability of real-life AI applications and positioned itself as a pioneer in the deep learning and AI solutions market.
Big vote of confidence
Moshe Tanach, CEO and co-founder of NeuReality has explained that backing from Samsung Ventures is a ‘big vote of confidence’ in NeuReality’s technology.
“[This will] help us take the company to the next level and take our NR1 SoC [see below] to production. This will enable our customers to evolve their system architecture and this evolution will make it easier for them to scale and maintain their AI infrastructure, whether it is in their datacenter, in a cloud or on-premises,” said Tanach.
The company’s NR1 is an integrated circuit device that is based on its AI-centric architecture. The System-on-a-Chip (SoC) improves the utilisation of AI compute resources that are currently deployed by removing the existing system bottlenecks, lowering the latency of AI operations and saving in overall system cost and power consumption.
The company also develops complimentary software tools and software runtime libraries intended to make it easy for customers of various skill levels and various deployment topologies to adopt new AI-based services in their business workflows.
How did Israel get AI smart?
All which (above) story may lead some to ask, yes okay – Israel is a smart young nation with a track record in showing determined focus and a steadfast belief in itself – but how did it get so AI smart?
Part of the answer is down to a young motivated educated populus… and part of the answer is down to foresight.
Quoted on the Jerusalem Post here this year, director of Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) at Tel Aviv University, Professor Isaac Ben-Israel has said, “AI is the dominant technology of the next five, ten years; Israel is capable of being one of the global hubs for AI technology, as we are for cyber technology.”
It was Ben-Israel who formally wrote to the then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999 urging him to invest in Israel’s IT development, with cyber (and later AI) as key focus areas.
What all of this teaches us is that the next Silicon Valley (or at least the next Silicon Ravine – but maybe the next Silicon Canyon) could spring up anywhere around the planet. Either way, even if it’s just a gulch or a gully, the results could be gorgeous.