Nihar Athreyas: Leading the AI Chip Revolution

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms have made inroads in different application areas from security cameras in smart cities to self-driving cars and from autonomous drones to satellites in space. These new algorithms handle a large amount of data and their computational complexity is ever increasing. As the tech industry grapples to find ways to accelerate the performance of some of these algorithms, multiple startup companies have emerged across the globe with new ideas and computing architectures on how best to achieve this goal. Intel’s recent acquisition of an AI startup company called Habana Labs, that was developing chips for neural network training and inference applications for $2 billion and multiple other investments by the venture community in various startup companies is a sign that this market is still hot.

One such company that is trying to carve out a space of its own in a vastly competitive market by developing a hardware accelerator platform for edge applications requiring real-time operations and mobile power budgets is Spero Devices. The development of this technology at Spero is being led by Dr. Nihar Athreyas who is the founding member and Chief Technology Officer. Under his technical supervision, Spero Devices has been awarded multiple fundamental research contracts from the United States Department of Defense. Dr. Athreyas and his team were selected to develop novel computing architectures for accelerating algorithms for scientific simulation and AI applications.

Dr. Athreyas had his beginnings in Mysore, Karnataka where he finished his schooling and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India which was affiliated with Visvesvaraya Technological University of Karnataka. Dr. Athreyas then proceeded to obtain his Master of Science degree and his Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2013 and 2018, respectively. Spero Devices, Inc. was founded while Dr. Athreyas was pursuing his doctorate and the hardware accelerator platform being developed at the company is an extension of his doctoral dissertation.

Dr. Athreyas has published several scholarly research papers in well-established conferences and prominent journals which have been cited many times. He is the co-inventor on numerous patents that have been assigned to Spero Devices, Inc. for commercialization. His original research contributions have received widespread comments and have been downloaded and used extensively.

At Spero Devices, Dr. Athreyas is now responsible for research, design and development of product architecture, corporate development and market strategy. He is also the lead scientist and engineer for the multiple Department of Defense projects that are ongoing. His expertise is in processor design and development, design and simulation of analog and digital circuits and systems, nanotechnology device modeling and machine learning algorithms. Dr. Athreyas is one of the few people who has risen to the top of his field and he wishes to continue contributing to the field and to the community in general.

Ravi Tilekar

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Ravi Tilekar

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