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05/31/21

An Interview with Tenstorrent: CEO Ljubisa Bajic and CTO Jim Keller

Tenstorrent
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by Dr. Ian Cutress on May 27, 2021 11:45 AM EST

Read the full article here.

IC: Who or what is Tenstorrent, in your own words?

LB: Tenstorrent is a start-up company working on new computer architectures that are aiming to essentially be the right substrate for executing machine learning workloads. More data-heavy workloads have been emerging and taking over, especially the datacenter computing scene, but we want to go wider than that as well.

IC: Jim, you were the first investor in Tenstorrent – I remember you telling me a little while ago, when you joined the company five months ago. What is it about Tenstorrent that’s really got you excited and interested?

JK: So I know Ljubisa, and I’d seen a lot of AI start-ups. When I was at Tesla, everybody came to talk to us and pitch their stuff, and there seemed to be an odd collection of odd ideas. [There were] people who didn’t really get the full end of chip design, the software design, and all of that. I know Ljubisa – he has actually worked on GPUs in real chips and he ran a software team, and he actually understands the math behind AI, which is a somewhat rare combination. I actually told him, I thought it would be funny if he had a couple of guys working in a basement for a year, and so I gave him what’s called the Angel Round of investment, and they actually did. You were in a basement or were you over a garage or something?

LB: We were in a basement!

JK: You were literally in a basement so, and they built a prototype using an FPGA that got the seen round, and then that got him further to get the first day round.