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UCL spinout bags £10M to make AI ‘super brains’ for 100x faster LLM training

The technology also boasts reduced energy consumption

UCL spinout bags £10M to make AI ‘super brains’ for 100x faster LLM training

Oriole Networks, a UCL spinout, has raised £10mn in seed funding to build AI “super brains” that promise to accelerate the training of Large Language Models (LLMs). 

Founded in 2023 by UCL scientists, the startup has developed a new method that harnesses the power of  light to connect thousands of AI chips. This results in a network of chips, where the power of each individual GPU is combined to form a “super brain.” 

According to James Regan, CEO at Oriole Networks, this “enables the direct connection of a very large number of nodes enabling it to function as a single machine.” 

The novelty of the approach lies in the deployment of custom light-based transmission and switching protocols. 

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“These protocols deliver a significant reduction in the power consumption required for equivalent scale network implementations,” Regan told TNW.

“This network implementation will increase the efficiency and interconnectivity of the network, thereby providing a significant improvement to the compute performance of a given AI compute system.” 

Oriole Networks says that this super brain can train LLMs 100x faster and with a thousandth of the latency, while improving energy consumption by 40 times.

Oriole Networks team
The Oriole Networks team. Credit: Oriole Networks

The startup believes that its technology can not only address the concerns over AI’s massive energy demand and consumption, but also accelerate time-critical tasks, such as algorithmic trading. Oriole Networks envisions significant benefits in particular for companies working with AI, as well as for data centres.

The funding will be used to progress the technology from lab demonstration to customer trials in a deployed optical data network. The round was co-led by UCL Technology Fund, Clean Growth Fund, XTX Ventures, and Dorilton Ventures. It was also backed by Innovate UK Investor Partnership.

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