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Pays $2Bn for Artificial intelligence tools company Habana for its high-performance training processor family.

EYAL TOUEG/INTEL CORPORATION - Habana Labs chairman Avigdor Willenz stands near a rack that incorporates Habana Labs' HLS-1 Gaudi artificial intelligence training system at Habana Labs' office in Caesarea, Israel. Willenz will serve as a senior adviser to the business unit as well as to Intel Corporation after Intel's purchase of Habana.

Intel Corporation has been shopping. The Washington County icon acquired fellow chipmaker Habana Labs, an Israel-based developer of programmable deep learning accelerators for the data center. The price was approximately $2 billion.

Intel has been looking to strengthen its artificial intelligence (AI) portfolio and accelerates its efforts in the nascent, fast-growing AI silicon market. Intel expects that to be greater than $25 billion by 2024.

"This acquisition advances our AI strategy, which is to provide customers with solutions to fit every performance need – from the intelligent edge to the data center," said Navin Shenoy in a release. Shenoy is the executive vice president and general manager of the Data Platforms Group at Intel. "Habana turbo-charges our AI offerings for the data center with a high-performance training processor family and a standards-based programming environment to address evolving AI workloads."

AI tools

The company said is AI strategy is "grounded in the belief that harnessing the power of AI to improve business outcomes requires a broad mix of technology — hardware and software — and full ecosystem support. Intel AI solutions are helping customers turn data into business value and driving meaningful revenue for the company. In 2019, Intel expects to generate over $3.5 billion in AI-driven revenue, up more than 20 percent year-over-year. Together, Intel and Habana can accelerate the delivery of best-in-class AI products for the data center, addressing customers' evolving needs.

Shenoy added: "We know that customers are looking for ease of programmability with purpose-built AI solutions, as well as superior, scalable performance on a wide variety of workloads and neural network topologies. That's why we're thrilled to have an AI team of Habana's caliber with a proven track record of execution joining Intel. Our combined IP and expertise will deliver unmatched computing performance and efficiency for AI workloads in the data center."

Intel Israel

Intel employs around 20,000 people in Washington County, where its most advanced research and manufacturing is based. Intel's Israel Development Centre in Haifa was established in 1974. There it develops CPU microarchitectures, Mobileye advanced driver-assistance systems (for which Intel paid $15.3 billion in 2017 RealSense 3D cameras, communication and other technologies. Intel is expanding its Fab 28 production facility in Kiryat Gat.

Habana will remain an independent business unit and will continue to be led by its current management team. Habana will report to Intel's Data Platforms Group, home to Intel's broad portfolio of data-center-class AI technologies. This combination gives Habana access to Intel AI capabilities, including significant resources built over the last three years with deep expertise in AI software, algorithms and research that will help Habana scale and accelerate.

Habana chairman Avigdor Willenz has agreed to serve as a senior adviser to the business unit as well as to Intel. Habana will continue to be based in Israel where Intel also has a significant presence and long history of investment. Prior to this transaction, Intel Capital was an investor in Habana.


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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