Graphcore, a U.K.-based company developing accelerators for AI workloads, this morning announced a milestone: Its Intelligence Processing Units (IPUs) have launched on Azure.

It marks the first time a large-scale cloud vendor — Microsoft — has made publicly available Graphcore’s chips.

IPUs on Azure are open for customer sign-up, Graphcore says, with access prioritized for those “focused on pushing the boundaries of [natural language processing]” and “developing new breakthroughs in machine intelligence.”

By way of refresher, Graphcore — which was founded in 2016 by Simon Knowles and Nigel Toon — has raised $310 million to date from Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Samsung, Dell Technologies Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital, Pitango Capital, and AI luminaries Arm cofounder Hermann Hauser and DeepMind cofounder Demis Hassabis at a $1.5 billion valuation.

Over this period, the Microsoft team, led by Marc Tremblay, distinguished engineer, has been developing systems for Azure and has been enhancing advanced machine vision and natural language processing models on IPUs,” said Toon.

“We have been working extensively with a number of leading early-access customers and partners for some time to ensure that [these products are] ready for general release.”

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