How Luminous Computing Plans To Use Light To Make AI Faster And More Efficient

By Amit Chowdhry ● June 13, 2019
  • Luminous Computing is a company that has the blueprint for fitting computing power of the world’s largest supercomputer on a single chip
  • The company is planning to use photonics to solve bottlenecks that traditional processors are dealing with
  • Recently, Luminous Computing raised $9 million in seed funding from a group of all-star tech leaders

Luminous Computing, a company that has the blueprint for fitting the computing power of the world’s largest supercomputer on a single chip. And Luminous is specializing it for AI workloads and is planning to use photonics to solve all of the major bottlenecks that traditional processors are dealing with. This work is based on a decade of Princeton research and the company already has working silicon.

“We are excited to share that we have raised our seed round of $9 million. Our major backers are Gigafund (Luke Nosek and Stephen Oskoui), Neo (Ali Partovi), and Bill Gates, with additional backing from 10100 (Travis Kalanick), BoxGroup, Dara Khosrowshahi, and Emil Michael, as well as our pre-seed investors (Class 5 Global, Joshua Browder, Ozmen Ventures, Schox Investments, and Third Kind Venture Capital),” said the company in a statement.

Luminous Computing is planning to ship a single chip that will replace 3000 TPU boards. And the company’s competitors are the largest semiconductor companies. The company strongly believes that training AI systems should take minutes rather than days and that AI should be deployed to every product that we interact with on a daily basis.

The company’s founders include chief strategist Michael Gao, CEO Marcus Gomez, and CTO Mitchell Nahmias. Gao used to be the CEO of AlphaSheets, Gomez was previously a research scientist at Tinder and Google, and Nahmias was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at Princeton University.

Another company that is also focused on using photonics for building supercomputers on a chip is Lightmatter. And Lightmatter raised $33 million from investors like Google’s venture capital arm and Spark Capital. MIT associate professor Dirk Englund, a technical advisor at Lightmatter, believes that Luminous could run into problems managing the various devices required for manipulating light when the company starts to ramp up production of its chips. For example, optical chips need lasers and electro-optic modulators for carefully controlling light to make it work. This is a major reason why this technology has not caught on yet.

With this round of funding, Luminous is planning to hire more employees especially those who have semiconductor company experience.