Celestial AI raises $56M for its hybrid photonic-electronic AI chip

Celestial AI Inc., a startup developing photonics technology for artificial intelligence applications, has raised $56 million in funding to support its engineering efforts. 

Sunnyvale, California-based Celestial AI announced the investment this morning. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the investment with participation from Temasek’s Xora Innovation fund, Tyche Partners, Merck & Co. Inc.’s venture fund and IMEC XPand. The Engine and Fitz Gate, which are active in the startup ecosystems of MIT and Princeton University, respectively, contributed as well. 

Celestial AI is developing an accelerator chip called Orion that’s designed to speed up machine learning applications. What sets the chip apart from the numerous existing AI accelerator products on the market is a technology dubbed Photonic Fabric. The technology transports data among the Orion chip’s circuits in the form of light, rather than in the form of electricity as most processors do.

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