The future of fields like artificial intelligence and big data is going to demand ever-increasingly powerful hardware. Unfortunately, Moore’s Law, the guiding light for hardware improvements over many decades, can no longer be relied upon. So what’s next? One startup in the North of England has a plan…
Reconfigure.io wants to help developers take hardware acceleration to the cloud, so that they can build more demanding applications.
In 2017 the startup plans to launch a cloud-based platform letting anyone take advantage of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to accelerate computational performance.
It’s a move that’s bang on trend. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced Project Catapult, a programme to overhaul and turbo-charge its own infrastructure and services using the power of FPGAs. China’s Baidu has taken a similar approach. Reconfigure.io co-founder and CEO Rob Taylor says that his startup will give this same ability to the masses.
Taylor gives an example of real-time analytics, where millions of events are analysed per second. “Normally you’d need to distribute the analysis of that stream over many cloud servers, (but) you can replace tens of machines with just one FPGA.”
Amazon enters the picture
Being ‘on trend’ also means that Reconfigure.io is a small, seed-funded startup moving in the same space as giants with far more resources. Amazon Web Services last week announced a preview of its own FPGA service. However, Taylor says that this helps him, rather than threatens him. His startup is the layer on top of the hosted hardware that allows developers to take advantage of cloud-based hardware acceleration.
“(The Amazon announcement) potentially massively accelerates our execution. One thing that was a limiter in our earlier plans was the supply of hosted FPGA, but having AWS provide these means we can assume that all demand will be satisfied.”
Reconfigure.io is based in Manchester, but has team members in the US. The company announced a seed round in October, from angels in the UK, Switzerland and the US. While Taylor says he has no direct competitors right now, working in such a hot space he’s going to need a warchest. So, it’s no surprise to learn that he’s already raising another round. This is a startup to watch.
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