Photonic AI coprocessors LightOn can be rented for “only” € 1900 / month. / ServerNews

Photonic AI coprocessors LightOn can be rented for “only” € 1900 / month. / ServerNews


Paris-based France-based startup LightOn has unveiled its first commercial device – the world’s most powerful photonic coprocessor for artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing, according to the company.

The rack-mountable device is in 2U format. The heart of the system is the Aurora2 Optical Processor (OPU), which contains one second generation Nitro photonic core. Its performance is 1.5 TeraOPS with a TDP of only 30 watts. In a number of tasks, the OPU is significantly faster than the CPU and GPU, and at the same time it consumes much less power.

To work with the device, you need a server with Intel Xeon (everything should work on AMD too, but compatibility was not checked), Ubuntu 18.04 or Debian 10, Python 3.7+, and a free PCIe 2.0 x4 slot. PyTorch 1.0+ and scikit-learn are supported, as well as the proprietary LightOn ML v1.2 library and its own SDK.

The device will be available to customers on a lease basis. The cost starts from € 1900 / month. (excluding VAT) upon conclusion of a three-year contract. The devices will start shipping in June 2021. The company also offers pre-configured solutions, technical support and customized training courses. More information about the new product can be found here. In addition, the company has a cloud service where first generation OPUs are available.