UK VC leads spinout of Intel data centre technnology

UK VC leads spinout of Intel data centre technnology
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Cornelis Networks launches with $20m back and Intel's Omni-Path business
By Nick Flaherty

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Cornelis Networks in the US has raised $20m to spin out Intel’s Omni-Path interconnect technology for the data centre. 

The Series A funding was led by London-based venture capital fund Downing Ventures and joined by Intel Capital and Chestnut Street Ventures.

The spin-out of the Omni-Path business from Intel gives Pennsylvania-based Cornelis a complete, highly capable scale-out interconnect product line currently installed at over 500 end-user sites for 100Gbit/s and 200Gbit/s systems. The spin-out has also provided Cornelis Networks access to Intel’s technological foundation for a roadmap for future scale-out interconnect products to support artificial intelligence, data analytics, and modeling/simulation systems.

Cornelis Networks was founded by Philip Murphy, Vladimir Tamarkin, and Gunnar Gunnarsson who worked together at SilverStorm Technologies. “This company launch represents an incredibly exciting moment for Cornelis Networks. We are thrilled to be partnering with Downing Ventures, who shares our vision and brings excellent technical and market knowledge to the company,” said Phil Murphy, co-founder and CEO. “Additionally, the Intel contributions have enabled us to hit the ground running with current products and given us a significant head-start on next generation development.  Finally, our partnership with the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and with key distribution partners has positioned us for long-term success.”

Murphy was vice president of engineering and vice president of HPC technology in QLogic’s Network Solutions Group, responsible for the design, development, and evangelizing of all high-performance computing products, as well as all storage area network switching products. Before joining QLogic, he was vice president of engineering at SilverStorm which he co-founded in 2000. Gunnarsson worked at Silverstorm and then at Intel as the Director of the OEM Program Management for high-performance fabrics.

“What Cornelis Networks offers with their current and next generation products will create significant step changes in supercomputing as well as accelerate proliferation of AI and associated technologies,” said Warren Rogers, Partner and Head of Ventures at Downing Ventures.

Next: Server partnerships


“We see significant opportunities for Cornelis to not only play a meaningful role in supercomputing, but to also play a central role in the growth of AI into the Cloud,” said Rogers at Downing. “With supercomputers being used to perform complex analyses of the current COVID-19 pandemic to understand disease and infection rates, it is a reminder how essential it is to continue developing HPC to be operating at the best of its capability.”

OEM server makers need the high performance interconnects to deliver large-scale compute cluster solutions to their customers.  

“Lenovo is excited to learn of the launch of Cornelis Networks.  Cornelis Networks is providing choice in high performance fabrics which is critical to our ability to deliver competitive cluster solutions to our most demanding customers,” said Scott Tease, General Manager of Lenovo’s HPC and AI business.

“Penguin is excited to engage Cornelis Networks for continued support of its Omni-Path platforms,” said Sid Mair, President of Penguin Computing.  “We have been collaborating with the core team at Cornelis on innovative HPC and AI architectures for over 15 years and are looking forward to continuing our relationship under their new organization.”

Leading computing centres around the world, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, part of the DOE/NNSA, use Omni-Path for high performance computing (HPC). “Livermore has deployed multiple generations of HPC platforms based on the scalability and overall cost-performance of the company’s offerings.  We look forward to working with Cornelis as they continue to build on their strong foundation of successful HPC solutions,” said Bronis de Supinski, CTO of Livermore Computing.

“Intel believes Cornelis Networks will fill the current gap and expand the ecosystem of high-performance fabric solutions, offering an option to customers building clusters for HPC and AI based on Intel Xeon processors,” said Trish Damkroger, Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s High Performance Computing organization. “Cornelis Networks will be an important ecosystem partner for Intel, as well as an Intel Capital portfolio company. We are pleased to have played an instrumental role in establishing an independent company that will expand the choice of scale-out interconnects for our customers.”

The company will compete with Nvidia’s Mellanox interconnect division as well as Infiniband and Gigabit Ethernet chip designers such as Marvell.

www.cornelisnetworks.com

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