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Circuit Breaker

Graphcore’s new AI chips are the best-looking server processors you’ll never see

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Server style

In the burgeoning computer chip market that’s dominated by Nvidia and Intel, you’re probably not as familiar with Graphcore, a UK-based AI hardware startup. To take on the giants, the company is touting higher performance on various AI tasks with its stylishly designed microprocessors and server blades that it hopes will stand out among the competition — even if you’ll never actually see them, via Fast Company.

Designed with the design firm Pentagram, the Graphcore microprocessors feature colorful plastic shells in pink, blue, and tan pastels, and they’re algorithmically generated so that each unit features a unique design. There are also subtle shapes adorning each square, creating a playful style that’s usually not seen in the dreary black-and-gray world of server racks.

Unfortunately, few people will actually see the colorful processor units. As Graphcore’s pictures show, the shells will be nestled inside of a server blade and at least partially covered up by other hardware. Graphcore also had to create a custom heat sink to keep the processors cool, despite the playful designs. But it’s certainly a nice change of pace from the seemingly Mountain Dew-infused designs of Nvidia’s processors.

On the plus side, Graphcore is extending the colorful designs to the rackmount exteriors, using the various shapes for the heat vents in a more outward-facing area, too.

So even if you (or anyone other than server engineers) will likely never see Graphcore’s IPU units, they do help Graphcore (literally) stand out from the crowd.