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This London startup snags £10M to turbocharge LLM training speed with AI super-brain

Oriole Networks team
Picture credits: Oriole Networks

London-headquartered Oriole Networks, a startup that uses light to train LLMs a hundred times faster with only a fraction of power, has raised £10 million in seed funding. This is touted to be one of the largest seed funding rounds in the UK in recent years. The round was co-led by UCL Technology Fund, Clean Growth Fund, XTX Ventures (invested in WealthKernel and BlueSkeye AI), and Dorilton Ventures and was supported by Innovate UK Investor Partnership.

Oriole Networks will use the investment to revolutionise AI performance and adoption and solve AI’s critical energy problem. 

Develops AI super-brain 

Oriole Networks was founded as a spinout from University College London in 2023 by UCL scientists, Professor George Zervas, Alessandro Ottino, and Joshua Benjamin, with seasoned CEO James Regan. 

It has developed a novel way of using light to connect thousands of AI chips. Once connected, the power of each graphics processing unit (GPU) is combined to form a super-brain. As per the company, this super-brain can train advanced Large Language Models a hundred times faster, with a thousandth of the latency, while using a tiny fraction of energy.

Speeds up data centres 

Oriole Network’s technology not only addresses rising concerns about the obscene energy demands of AI, but also has the power to revolutionise time critical tasks, such as algorithmic trading, increase AI adoption, and accelerate machine learning algorithmic progress in a low-carbon world. 

This will bring huge gains for all AI companies, particularly data centres. Data centres play a critical role in the evolution and proliferation of SaaS and its shift towards AI, yet are facing systemic problems and unsustainable power consumption due to increased demands. Oriole Networks will speed up data centres and dramatically reduce their energy consumption for a sustainable future.

George Zervas, CTO, said: “AI computational needs are increasing by 10 times every 18 months. This leads to distributed training and inference across large numbers of xPUs. Collective data movement across the servers in the data centre becomes a bottleneck which in turn limits the training and inference completion time. This requires a fundamental shift in the co-design of next-generation networked systems.”

James Regan, CEO, added: “As the demand for compute continues to increase, it is critical to find new solutions that can address these challenges in a sustainable and carbon-efficient manner. Our novel approach to harness the power of light has already demonstrated significant technical performance improvements, up to 100 times speed up in completion time and 40 times improvements in energy consumption.”

David Grimm, Partner UCL Technology Fund, said: “It’s rare to have such depth of innovation over many years at UCL combined with an experienced entrepreneur with domain knowledge and a massive market that is looking for this solution. This is going to be an exciting journey.”

Daniel Freeman, General Partner at Dorilton Ventures, said: “We invest in companies in the IT infrastructure, data science, and cyber security segments whose products support computationally driven businesses. Over the last decade, compute performance has improved ten times faster than networking performance, so HPC environments are highly network-constrained. Oriole’s exciting approach can unlock the latent potential in existing infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, Beverley Gower-Jones OBE, Managing Partner of Clean Growth Fund, emphasised the criticality of sustainable development: “The world’s data centres already consume as much electricity as the whole of the UK, and it is rising rapidly, threatening to consume as much as the whole of Europe unless something is done. This radical approach to Net Zero innovation is exactly what is needed.”

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