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Nuvia raises $240m to build ARM data centre chip

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty


A US startup less than 18 months old has raised nearly $300m (€258m) to develop and produce a new generation of chips for the data centre.

Nuvia was publically launched in February 2019 by three engineers from Apple to build a new high performance processor core around the ARM architecture, and use that for a system-on-chip for the data centre.  

Nuvia aims to more than double the performance of previous chips based around ARM’s Cortex-A79 core with its Phoenix core within the same power budget. This is a clear competitive driver for ARM’s latest datacentre roadmap, which split into the N2 core for scaling and the V1 vector core for higher performance at comparable performance levels.

Nuvia’s Orion chip would compete with Amazon’s in-house Graviton3 chip, where ARM would expect to see a design-in, and Facebook’s internal server chips, but may have an opportunity with Microsoft’s Azure data centres and the Google Cloud. But it would take advantage of the move to ARM-based servers with the software eco-system support.

Nuvia’s latest funding round was led by Mithril Capital, which has largely invested in healthcare technology in recent years, as well as Sehat Sutardja and Weili Dai, founders of Marvell Technology Group). Funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Fidelity Management & Research and Temasek, with additional participation from Atlantic Bridge, Redline Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, Dell Technologies Capital, Mayfield, Nepenthe and WRVI Capital.

The funding builds on a $53M Series A round, raised in November 2019.

“The opportunity in front of Nuvia has never been brighter, with an industry that’s looking for a new way to get the performance needed to power the next generation of cloud and enterprise computing,” said Gerard Williams, CEO of Nuvia. A former Senior Director at Apple and Chief CPU Architect for nearly a decade, he spent spent over 10 years at ARM, as an ARM Fellow, and serving on the ARM Architectural Review and Technical Advisory Boards. While at ARM, he served as a technical advisor for the ARM architecture and CPU development to many key ARM partners, and started his career at Intel and Texas Instruments. “We’re very fortunate to have an incredible group of investors behind us as we close Series B and take the next steps in our vision to redefine performance, energy efficiency, scalability, compute density and total cost of ownership within the data centre.”

The cash won’t go very far. Although Nuvia hasn’t disclosed many technical details, the Orion server chip needs to be built on a 5nm process to be competitive in the market, and that can cost up to $600m, so expect signficant Series C funding to get the chip to market in volume. A 7nm design is half the wafer cost but would reduce the performance advantages. UK data centre chip designer Graphcore for example is working with TSMC on 5nm and 3nm technology.  

There are some limited performance details at nuviainc.com/blog/performancedeliveredanewway.

www.nuvia.com

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