Stanford startup raises $56 million for ML computing

March 20, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
SambaNova Systems Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) has raised $56 million in Series A funding to develop a computing platform for distributed machine learning. The technology is based on work conducted in hardware and software labs of Stanford University.

SambaNova said it will use the money to recruit engineers and accelerate the build-out of its computing platform which will likely include dedicated but software-configurable processors.

The company was founded in November 2017 to commercialize the work of Stanford University Professor Kunle Olukotun (shown above left) and Professor Chris Ré, and is led by CEO Rodrigo Liang (shown above right), former senior vice president of processor development at Oracle. The two professors have been researching energy efficient processing for artificial intelligence.

The company is reported to have 50 employees already.

Professor Olukotun, who serves SambaNova as chief technologist, has conducted research into multi-core processing that helped gave rise to the "Niagara" multithreading Sparc processor architecture. Professor Ré has worked on database systems and machine learning.

Professors Olukotun and Ré worked together at Afara Websystems where they produced a multicore processor and which was acquired by Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2002. Prior to joining Oracle through the Sun acquisition in 2010, Liang was vice president at Sun Microsystems, where he worked on the development of the Niagara line of multi-core processors. Liang was director of engineering at Afara Websystems when it was acquired by Sun in 2002.

"SambaNova’s innovations in machine learning algorithms and software-defined hardware will dramatically improve the performance and capability of intelligent applications. The flexibility of the SambaNova technology will enable us to build a unified platform providing tremendous benefits for business intelligence, machine learning and data analytics," said Professor Olukotun, in a statement.

The funding round was led by Walden International and GV, which was known as Google Ventures, and also included Redline Capital and Atlantic Bridge Ventures. Lip-Bu Tan, Chairman of Walden International and CEO of Cadence Design Systems Inc. is taking the position of  chairman and Dave Munichiello, general partner at GV, will join the company’s board of directors.

"SambaNova has gathered a dream team of Stanford professors, PhDs and industry veterans who profoundly understand


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