Startups Tackle Audacious Cloud Goals

Mitch Wagner
2/6/2018

A couple of startups with top pedigrees are looking to tackle big, audacious challenges in cloud computing.

Ampere, founded by former Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) president Renee James, is taking on her former employer with 64-bit ARM processors designed for the special needs of cloud servers. Also, Lightelligence, an MIT spin-off, is working on next-generation AI hardware based on "nano-photonics" -- using light instead of electrons.

Ampere launched Monday with a mission of accelerating hyperscale cloud computing with hardware architectures delivering optimized memory performance, cost, space and power constraints on private and public clouds, the company said in a statement.

Ampere's custom-core 64-bit server operates at up to 3.3GHz, with 1TB of memory and a power envelope of 125 watts. The processors are sampling now and will be in production in the second half of the year.

Servers. Photo by Victorgrigas (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Servers. Photo by Victorgrigas (CC BY-SA 3.0)


You're invited to attend Light Reading’s Big Communications Event  – the one event that delivers fresh perspective on the rapid transformation of the telecom industry and the road ahead. We'll see you May 14-16 in Austin – communications service providers get in free!


James is Ampere's CEO, and it's backed by the Carlyle Group.

Ampere's architecture is designed to meet the needs of cloud applications, the company says. Workloads moving to the cloud require more memory while controlling power, size and costs. The architecture is optimized for cloud workloads such as artificial intelligence, big data, storage and database.

Servers. Photo by Victorgrigas (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Servers. Photo by Victorgrigas (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ampere comes along at a time when the cloud server market is ripe for disruption. Cloud servers are now standardized on processors by Intel, but Intel is vulnerable. The Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities present opportunities for competitors, as those flaws have opened big security holes in Intel systems. (See Intel CEO Promises Chips That Fix Spectre & Meltdown Flaws .)

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has developed its own ARM-based server processor, the Centriq 2400, and is spoiling for a fight.

James was Intel's highest-ranking woman when she left the company in 2015 after nearly 30 years' service.

As for Lightelligence, that company launched Friday to build light-based circuits, called "nano-photonics," an alternative to conventional electronics, to achieve ultra-low latency, high throughput and extremely high power efficiency, according to a company statement (see Lightelligence Raises $10M To Build 'Nano-Photonic' AI Hardware.)

Researchers at MIT developed the technology, which will be licensed exclusively to Lightelligence. The founding team of the company worked as researchers at the university, the company says.

Cloud providers are looking to specialized hardware to meet the intense processor needs of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Today, they turn to chips originally designed for the high-compute needs of graphical applications, which turn out to be easily adaptable to AI and machine learning. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) recently expanded its partnership with Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) along those lines (see IBM Cloud Taps Into Nvidia GPUs for AI & HPC) and Google started offering bargain rates for users running low-priority tasks on GPUs. (See Google Cloud Offering 'Preemptible' GPUs Plus Price Cut.)

Related posts:

— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
kq4ym
kq4ym
2/27/2018 | 11:56:11 AM
Re: Lots of competition
Tackling the development of "processors designed for the special needs of cloud servers," seems to be filling a growing need, but I'm skeptical that all the startups are going to be big winners. It's still a big gamble in this fast growing field.
kq4ym
kq4ym
2/15/2018 | 8:06:16 AM
Re: Lots of competition
It would seem that although "more memory while controlling power, size and costs," is the way to go in a logical development there's probably going to lots of competition in that area to outdo Intel, but I would think the light based circuit idea if successful in the near future will be the real game changer.
tomas23
tomas23
2/11/2018 | 8:14:27 PM
Clipart
SoftBank must be doing well!..
mhhfive
mhhfive
2/8/2018 | 10:22:24 PM
Re: Lots of competition
I thought even AMD had some ARM chip designs for cloud services hardware... but I'm not sure if AMD is really following through with those chips.
mhhfive
mhhfive
2/8/2018 | 10:14:10 PM
ARM chips FTW
It's fascinating that ARM designs are gaining ever more diverse applications in data centers and in handheld devices as well. SoftBank must be doing well!
mhhfive
mhhfive
2/8/2018 | 1:38:56 PM
Custom chips = more security?
If security by obscurity works at all then custom chips that no one else uses might be somewhat more secure than generic hardware--- but of course there's still plenty of other vulnerabilities to exploit that have nothing to do with Intel chips.
danconde
danconde
2/6/2018 | 6:54:39 PM
Lots of competition
There is competition such as ThunderX an ARM processor from Cavium, but I think it's good that people are looking at different compute systems. 
More Blogs from Wagner’s Ring
We're packing our bags for Dallas, for our cleverly named Network Virtualization and SDN Americas conference, but first we sat down to talk about NV, SDN and our favorite travel snack.
Will Apple's new iPhone 11 grow telco profits? Will Apple TV+ compete in a crowded OTT market? And why does everybody have fabulous hair in an Apple TV+ series where civilization has collapsed because everybody in the world is blind?
After years of defending itself against US spying accusations, Huawei claims the US government is spying on it.
The satellite network operator is looking to the Open Networking Automaton Platform (ONAP) to automate connecting its space-based network with terrestrial operators.
VMware's been shopping this summer, buying three cloud and networking startups that will bolster its telco strategy.
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
October 1-2, 2019, New Orleans, Louisiana
October 10, 2019, New York, New York
October 22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
Edge Computing, the Next Great IT Revolution
By Rajesh Gadiyar, Vice President & CTO, Network & Custom Logic Group, Intel Corp
Innovations in Home Media Terminals for the Upcoming 5G Era
By Tang Wei, Vice President, ZTE Corporation
All Partner Perspectives