ThinCi, a new semiconductor startup, is coming out of stealth mode today to announce it is designing vision processors that can be used in a wide range of applications, from self-driving cars to deep-learning supercomputers. And it is announcing that automotive parts maker Denso International America, Magna International, and bunch of well-known tech individuals have invested in the company.
The Sacramento, Calif.-based ThinCi says that over time, its processors will be 10 to 100 times more powerful than other vision processing solutions on the market. The company said that its unique architecture has been developed, patented, and tested in working chips. ThinCi has developed a deep learning machine vision chip that can provide machine intelligence in a wide array of applications.
Dinakar Munagala, CEO of ThinCi, said in an email, “We started as three guys in our garage about 6 years ago and have come a long way. With immense family and support from noteworthy angels through ups and downs of startup life we’ve made it to the point of first silicon, benchmarking and winning at customers. We have been able to get some really smart people to join us across deep learning algorithms, chip design, drivers and compilers and have grown.”
One of the investors is former Intel executive David “Dadi” Perlmutter, who is now managing partner at Eucalyptus Growth Capital. In a statement, he said, “It is always exciting seeing a new innovative solution that is solving a new problem like computer vision and deep learning in a new elegant and programmable way.”
Another investor is Kurt Lauk, cofounder of Globe Capital Partners and former executive at Daimler-Chrysler.
In a statement, he said, “In addition, ThinCi is guided by highly experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The team around Dinakar Munagala is experienced in this field and highly dedicated. The multitude of applications gives ThinCi a broad range of development in many fields.”
Other investors include Dado Banatao, chairman of the ThinCi board and managing partner at Tallwood Venture Capital, along with numerous other investors.
The company believes its technology will also be useful in handheld smartphones. Google’s Pixel smartphone announced this week is a prime example, as the device is much more powerful because it operates on the artificial intelligence of the Google Assistant, which gives you lots of A.I. advice in response to voice and visual queries.
“If you’re a fan of William Gibson, in his book ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’, one of the characters is a young girl named Kumiko and she has a handheld device called Colin, who is her electronic guardian, tutor, spy, guide, all-around personal assistant. That’s what this technology will enable,” the company said.
Beyond Google, ThinCi said that “every major handheld device manufacturer needs this capability if they are going to survive the next transition of handheld technology.”
ThinCi has 50 employees in Sacramento and India. It was founded in 2010. One of its rivals is Movidius, which was just acquired by Intel. Another riva is Nvidia. The company was started by four former engineers at Intel.