Sam Altman-backed AI processor venture hires ex-Apple engineer to lead hardware development

 Jean-Didier ("J-D") Allegrucci
(Image credit: Accesswire / Pexels)

Rain AI, an AI hardware processor developer backed by OpenAI's Sam Altman and investment banks, has hired Jean-Didier Allegrucci, a former Apple chip executive, to lead its hardware engineering. This high-profile hire indicates that Rain AI has serious plans for its processors.

Jean-Didier Allegrucci, who has yet to update his LinkedIn profile, worked on Apple's system-on-chips (SoCs) for over 17 years since June 2007 and oversaw development of more than 30 processors used for iPhones, Macs, iPads, and Apple Watch. Based on a Rain AI blog post, Allegrucci was instrumental to build Apple's world-class SoC development team, overseeing areas such as SoC methodology, architecture, design, integration, and verification, so his experience will be extremely valuable for Rain AI. Before Apple, J-D Allegrucci worked at Vivante and ATI Technologies, both developers of graphics processing units.

"We could not be more excited to have a hardware leader of J-D’s caliber overseeing our silicon efforts," said Rain AI CEO William Passo. "Our novel compute-in-memory (CIM) technology will help unlock the true potential of today's generative AI models, and get us one step closer to running the fastest, cheapest, and most advanced AI models anywhere."

At Rain AI, Jean-Didier Allegrucci will collaborate with Amin Firoozshahian, Rain AI's lead architect, who transitioned from Meta Platforms after a five-year tenure. This partnership combines deep industry experience and innovative thinking to drive the company's ambitious goals. Yet, it will take quite some time before Amin Firoozshahian and Jean-Didier Allegrucci build their first system-on-chip at Rain. The process typically takes many years.

Rain AI's focus is on in-memory compute technology, which processes data at the storage location, mimicking the human brain. It promises to enhance energy efficiency significantly compared to traditional AI processors, such as Nvidia's H100, or B100/B200 or AMD's Instinct MI300X.

Earlier this month Rain AI licensed Andes Technology's AX45MPV RISC-V vector processor with the ACE/COPILOT instruction customization and partnered with Andes's Custom Computing Business Unit (CCBU) to accelerate development of its compute-in-memory generative AI solutions. This collaboration aims to enhance Rain AI's product roadmap and deliver scalable AI solutions by early 2025.

Given the time it usually takes to develop a complex processor from scratch and the fact that Rain AI is tasking Andes to help it build its first SoC by early 2025, it looks like processors which development will be led by Jean-Didier Allegrucci are at least a couple of years away and his input to the 2025 product will be limited (if any).

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • bit_user
    Ugh, just goes to show it's worth spending a little time & money to get a professional "head shot" for your Linked-in photo. I'd feel bad for him if he weren't presumably quite wealthy from having such a senior position at Apple for that amount of time.

    I'd sure hate it if my work ID badge photos were posted at the top of a news story. It's already not a great feeling when someone just asks to see your ID or drivers license.

    The article said:
    Before Apple, J-D Allegrucci worked at Vivante and ATI Technologies, both developers of graphics processing units.
    Oh weird. I only heard of Vivante after it was under Chinese ownership. I had assumed that it was always Chinese.
    Reply
  • redgarl
    What a great mug shot...
    Reply
  • TechyIT223
    bit_user said:
    Ugh, just goes to show it's worth spending a little time & money to get a professional "head shot" for your Linked-in photo. I'd feel bad for him if he weren't presumably quite wealthy from having such a senior position at Apple for that amount of time.

    I'd sure hate it if my work ID badge photos were posted at the top of a news story. It's already not a great feeling when someone just asks to see your ID or drivers license.

    100% this!
    Reply