Computing powerhouse Intel has announced plans to open a graphics-chip engineering lab in Toronto. The plant will be the main engineering and design facility for the company’s new GPUs that are set to launch in 2020.
Choosing Toronto was a strategic move for Intel, which was drawn in by the city’s thriving technology landscape, as everyone from NVIDIA to Samsung has opened AI or research labs in the city in the past year.
“This is one of the most active, dynamic centres for graphics enthusiasts – from the hardware all the way to games, and workloads, and AI (artificial intelligence),” said Ari Rauch, vice-president of the visual technologies team at Intel, in an interview with the Financial Post.
While Intel leads the central processing unit (CPU) market, demand for GPUs has grown due to their ability to handle complex algorithms that accompany many new AI methods. As Intel prepares for the launch of their own GPUs, they are looking for top engineering talent, and Toronto’s workforce fits the bill. Canada’s largest city has been climbing the international ranks in terms of tech talent and has created more jobs in the industry in the last year than Seattle, New York City and the Bay Area combined.
“[Toronto] was always on our radar. So when we were going to expand our dreams, we really wanted to tap into this great talent that exists there,” says Rauch in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “For us, it’s extremely exciting to partner with this dynamic and vibrant community.”
Intel won’t be the first graphics processing giant to expand operations in Toronto. The city also houses two key players in the GPU market: Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia Corp, who have both been developing standalone graphics processing chips for years.
Intel may be entering the GPU game later than some, but the company has been actively involved in AI technologies for some time. Earlier this year, Intel partnered with Toronto-based Rubikloud to bring AI solutions to retailers. 2018 has seen Toronto become a hub for AI innovation, with the University of Toronto opening the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and entering into an AI research partnership with LG earlier this year.