Axelera AI Raises $68 million in Series B Funding

Axelera AI Raises $68 million in Series B Funding

Dutch startup Axelera AI just landed $68 million in Series B funding, pushing its total to $120 million in just three years. As the AI chip market heats up, with projections of $67 billion in revenue by 2027, Axelera is betting on its unique edge-focused approach using RISC-V architecture and in-memory computing to stand out from the crowd.

This round stands as Europe's largest Series B for a fabless semiconductor company. Heavy hitters like Invest-NL Deep Tech Fund, the European Innovation Council Fund, and Samsung Catalyst Fund led the charge, joined by returning backers Innovation Industries and CDP Venture Capital SGR.

CEO Fabrizio Del Maffeo didn't mince words about the company's goals: "We're here to make AI accessible to everyone, from edge devices to the cloud. This money lets us expand beyond edge computing and tackle the big challenges in AI processing."

Axelera's secret sauce is its Metis™ AI Platform, which combines RISC-V architecture with in-memory computing. RISC-V is an open, royalty-free chip design, while in-memory computing runs calculations directly in a system's RAM, slashing processing time. Set to hit full production in late 2024, Metis promises to outperform current solutions by 3-5 times in both efficiency and raw power.

The numbers back up Axelera's ambitions. They've built a team of 180+ employees, including 55+ PhDs, and claim "tens" of enterprise customers with a potential $100 million in their business pipeline.

Samsung's Marco Chisari praised Axelera's tech: "They're tackling the 'Memory Wall' problem head-on with their Digital In-Memory Computing approach. It could be a game-changer for edge AI performance."

Axelera isn't alone in this space. Competitors like NeuroBlade, Tenstorrent, and established giants like NVIDIA are all vying for a piece of the AI chip pie. But Axelera aims to differentiate itself by delivering both chip hardware and software to manage and deploy AI models.

Hyundai and Samsung Back AI Chipmaker Tenstorrent with $100M Investment
Both companies are also active participants in Tenstorrent’s operations, adding a layer of strategic alignment and deeper involvement that transcends the traditional investor-company relationship.

The new cash will fuel Axelera's expansion plans. They're eyeing growth in North America, Europe, and the Middle East, while also breaking into markets like automotive AI and digital healthcare. The company is already developing its next generation of products, set to launch in 2025, focusing on computer vision, large language models, and large multimodal models.

However, Axelera faces significant challenges. Scaling chip production is notoriously difficult, and the AI chip market is increasingly crowded. With VC-backed chip startups raising nearly $5.3 billion this year alone, competition is fierce.

Yet the potential rewards are massive. While Axelera is unlikely to unseat NVIDIA (which holds a 70-95% market share) anytime soon, even a small slice of the projected $67 billion market could spell success for the Dutch startup.

Chris McKay is the founder and chief editor of Maginative. His thought leadership in AI literacy and strategic AI adoption has been recognized by top academic institutions, media, and global brands.

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