Artificial Intelligence

Jim Keller: Former Intel, Tesla chip exec Jim Keller joins artificial intelligence startup Tenstorrent


Jim Keller, a prominent computing chip architect who left Intel Corp last year, has joined a Toronto-based startup developing artificial intelligence chips.

Keller has been named president, chief technology officer and a board member of Tenstorrent Inc, a company founded in 2016 by Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Nvidia Corp veteran Ljubisa Bajic to create an AI chip that mimics some of the ways the human brain works to become more energy efficient than rival chips.

Keller, also an AMD veteran, has been a key player in chip advances at multiple companies. He worked on some of Apple Inc‘s early proprietary processors that set apart its iPhone and iPad devices from Android rivals. In 2012, he served a second stint at AMD helping design new high-end processors that have since helped the company gain market share against Intel in the data center market.

Keller moved to Tesla Inc in 2016 to help design a chip at the heart of its autonomous driving computing system before being recruited by Intel in April 2018. He left Intel in June.

At Tenstorrent, Keller will join a team competing against large rivals such as Nvidia, a slew of other startups and internal efforts at companies such as Amazon.com Inc in the artificial intelligence market.

Tenstorrent’s chips – named “Grayskull” and “Wormhole” – mimic the human brain in that they are designed to ignore redundant information and respond differently to, for example, a picture of a car versus a picture of a dog, all in the name of being more power efficient. The chips also operate on the assumption that future software will involve programmers giving high-level directions while artificially intelligent computers write much of the nitty gritty code required to implement those human ideas.

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“Victory requires a comprehensive re-thinking of compute and low level software,” Keller of the artificial intelligence market in a statement.





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