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AI

Rescale raises $50M more to meet demand for high-performance compute

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San Francisco, California-based Rescale, a startup developing compute infrastructure for scientific research simulations, today announce that it raised $105 million in an expanded series C that included Jeff Bezos, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Richard Branson, Paul Graham, and Peter Thiel. The proceeds bring the company’s total capital raised to $155 million, which CEO Joris Poort says will be put toward growing Rescale’s platform, service offerings, and workforce.

Workloads across scientific R&D often benefit from hybrid cloud and on-premises computing technologies. Powerful computers allow researchers to undertake high volumes of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling — many of which would take months on traditional computing platforms. But less than 20% of high-performance compute (HPC) workloads currently run in the cloud. Even today, cloud adoption in the science and engineering community remains largely on-premises, relegated to private datacenters.

Founded in 2011 by Poort and Adam McKenzie, former aerospace engineers at Boeing, Rescale enables organizations to run scientific simulations on public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, and Oracle. The company’s network spans 8 million servers with over 80 specialized architectures and resources like Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs, Intel Skylake processors, and over 1TB RAM, delivering a combined a 1,400 petaflops of compute.

“Traditionally, HPC was limited to massive players with massive capital spending budgets to buy and build the latest clusters on-premises,” Rescale chief product officer Ed Hsu told VentureBeat via email. “Now, workloads can run across multiple public clouds and Rescale charges for use — not upfront — for physical purchase of machines and computing infrastructure.”

Scaling up compute resources

Whether they leverage compute from Rescale’s infrastructure or from a third-party provider, Rescale customers gain access to software that supports simulation for aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, life sciences, electronics, academia, and machine learning. The company delivers both on-demand and long-term computing environments and pricing, allowing customers to launch single batch jobs, optimization jobs, and large designs of experiments with programmatic bursting.

Beyond this, Rescale helps to manage on-premises HPC resources, schedulers, and software licenses as well as the transfer, organization, and storage of simulation input and output files.

One of Rescale’s more unique features is its recommendation engine, which leverages the metadata from millions of workloads, tens of thousands of apps, and hundreds of compute architectures. Trained on billions of computational core hours, the engine provides suggestions for optimizing performance across different compute clusters.

“[We] see our main competitors as legacy datacenter on-premises clusters,” Hsu said. “[Rescale] creates a long-tail opportunity for AI and machine learning workloads, since it’s an operating expense and delivers supercomputing capabilities. AI and machine learning benefits from access to the newest chip technologies, fast I/O, and compute that Rescale delivers on its platform; AI can be used on Rescale to abstract many aspects of computing to run their workloads.”

Growth segment

Some analysts forecast an annual HPC market spend of more than $60 billion by 2025, with HPC cloud services showing a compound annual growth rate of nearly 80%. The broad HPC market finished 2020 at $38.9 billion in revenue, down just 0.2% from 2019, according to Intersect360 Research.

Workloads in the scientific research and development category — Rescale’s bread and butter — were estimated to be worth $185 billion in 2020.

Since its most recent February funding round, Rescale claims that it’s added over a hundred new customers and expanded its software catalog to more than 800 apps. The company’s client base now stands at 200 enterprise subscribers and 400 subscribers overall, including several Fortune 50 businesses.

In 2020, Google and Microsoft kicked off a program with the startup to offer resources at no cost to teams working to develop COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Rescale provides the platform that researchers launch experiments and record results on, while Google and Microsoft supply the backend computing resources.

“Rescale believes it is doubling the size of the HPC market with its platform,” Hsu added. “[The pandemic has caused an uptick] in in life sciences [especially] as new customers [have] embraced the platform to accelerate drug discovery.”

Rescale’s latest funding round also included participation from Fort Ross Ventures, Gaingels, Gopher, Hitachi Ventures, Initialized Capital, Keen Venture Partners, Microsoft M12, Nautilus Venture Partners, Nvidia, Prometheus Capital, Republic Labs, Samsung Catalyst Fund, Solasta Ventures, Yield Capital Partners, and more. The company currently has 200 workers and expects to grow that number to 300 in a year.

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AI

Intel restructures to create units for GPU, high-performance computing

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(Reuters) — Chipmaker Intel said on Tuesday it would create two new business units that would focus separately on software and high-performance computing and graphics.

Intel also said current executives Sandra Rivera and Raja Koduri will take on new senior leadership roles, while technology industry veterans Nick McKeown and Greg Lavender will join the company.

Lavender, who most recently served as senior vice president and chief technology officer of VMware, will be the general manager of the new software and advanced technology group, while Koduri will lead an accelerated computing systems and graphics group.

Koduri, a veteran of Apple and Advanced Micro Devices, will lead the new group tasked with competing against rival Nvidia, whose graphics chips have gained ground in data centers thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning software.

While stumbles in Intel’s manufacturing operations have caused its flagship central processors to lag competitors, the company has taken a different approach with its graphics chips by allowing them to be manufactured elsewhere. Reuters reported earlier this year that Intel plans to tap Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) to better compete against Nvidia’s chips.

Nvidia also gained ground on Intel after giving software developers tools to write code for its chips. Such work will be a focus of Lavender’s newly created group. Intel has said it is working on software tools to write apps for new kinds of chips such as those based on open-source RISC-V architecture.

Rivera, McKeown, Lavender and Koduri will report directly to Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger.

Navin Shenoy, who headed the data center group before Rivera, will leave Intel on July 6.

“I believe a flatter organization is better at this juncture as it should enable faster decision making and execution,” said Pat Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “While Intel still has over 90% general purpose server processor share, it did have 98% five years ago, and I think that was a hard optic to shake off.”

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AI

HPE acquires Determined AI to bolster its high-performance compute business

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced it has acquired Determined AI, a San Francisco, California-based startup developing an open source platform for building machine learning models. The two companies say the deal will combine Determined AI’s software with HPE’s high-performance computing (HPC) offerings. Terms of the deal weren’t publicly disclosed.

Building and training machine learning models are among the most demanding stages in AI development because researchers must face challenges in HPC. These include setting up and managing parallel workloads and configuring infrastructure that spans compute, storage, fabric, and accelerators. Researchers also need to know how to program, schedule, and train their models to maximize utilization of the infrastructure they’ve set up.

Determined AI, which was cofounded in 2017 by Ameet Talwalkar, Evan Sparks, and Neil Conway, counts among its key contributors Ph.D. students and faculty from the University of California, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. The company’s platform helps set up, fine-tune, manage, and share workstations and clusters that run on-premises or in the cloud, as well as speeding up model training via capabilities like accelerator scheduling, advanced hyperparameter optimization, and neural architecture search. (Hyperparameters are variables whose values are used to control the learning process, while neural architecture search is a technique for automating the design of particular AI models.)

Determined AI claims it accelerated AI-guided drug discovery for one customer from three days to three hours. “The Determined AI team is excited to join HPE, who shares our vision to realize the potential of AI,” Sparks said. “Over the last several years, building AI applications has become extremely compute-, data-, and communication-intensive. By combining with HPE’s industry-leading HPC and AI solutions, we can accelerate our mission to build cutting-edge AI applications and significantly expand our customer reach.”

Growth in HPC

With the Determined AI purchase, HPE is chasing after an HPC market that’s becoming red hot. According to IDC, the accelerated AI server segment is expected to grow by 38% each year to reach $18 billion by 2024. And Intersect360 Research notes that the demand for HPC will increase by more than 40% to reach almost $55 billion in revenue by 2024.

In May, HPE expanded its GreenLake hybrid cloud services platform with a new data services cloud console, a suite of infrastructure management services, and HPE Alletra, cloud-native infrastructure for edge-to-cloud data workflows. In December 2020, HPE took the wraps off HPE GreenLake cloud services, a pay-per-use service providing access to fully managed, prebundled services based on HPC systems.

“As we enter the Age of Insight, our customers recognize the need to add machine learning to deliver better and faster answers from their data,” HPE SVP Justin Hotard said in a press release. “AI-powered technologies will play an increasingly critical role in turning data into readily available, actionable information to fuel this new era. Determined AI’s unique open source platform allows machine learning engineers to build models faster and deliver business value sooner without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. I am pleased to welcome the world-class Determined AI team, who share our vision to make AI more accessible for our customers and users, into the HPE family.”

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Tech News

Sennheiser IE 900 high-performance wired earbuds are made for audiophiles

Sennheiser is back with a new pair of wired earbuds designed for audiophiles seeking high-quality audio in a portable form factor. The newly unveiled Sennheiser IE 900 in-ear headphones sport the maker’s X3R transducer with a triple-chamber absorber system and housings milled from an aluminum block. The design, Sennheiser says, makes ‘even the subtlest nuances of sound audible.’

The X3R is, according to Sennheiser, a refined version of its 7mm Extra Wide Band transducer. The design is intended to deal with the masking effect, which refers to an acoustic phenomenon in which the listener will not be able to hear higher frequency sounds at a lower volume if lower frequency sounds are playing at a louder volume at the same time.

Sennheiser says its triple-chamber absorber works to address this issue by stripping energy from the masking resonances, squashing unwanted peaks to make the ‘subtlest nuances’ audible. Joining the X3R is the Fidelity Plus MMCX connector, giving users the option to use their favorite cable with the earbuds.

Sennheiser ships the IE 900 earbuds with balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm cables, as well as an unbalanced 3.5mm cable. These cords are para-aramid-reinforced and can, the company says, handle thousands of instances of bending. Users can expect a frequency range of 5Hz to 48kHz, minimized distortion, and adjustable ear hooks alongside memory foam and silicone ear tips for an ideal fit.

Sennheiser product manager Jermo Kohnke said:

No detail is too small when you’re striving to set a new benchmark in portable audio fidelity. We designed every component of the IE 900 to work together to deliver extraordinary audio performance. Whether in long listening sessions at home or on the go, listeners will never have to compromise on their music experience.

The Sennheiser IE 900 wired earbuds will arrive next month for $1,299.95 USD.

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Categories
AI

Rescale raises $50 million to provide high-performance infrastructure-as-a-service to enterprises

Rescale, a San Francisco, California-based startup developing a software platform and hardware infrastructure for scientific and engineering simulation, has raised $50 million. The company says the funding, which was announced today, will be put toward R&D and expanding the availability of Rescale’s platform.

Cloud adoption in the science and engineering community remains largely on-premises, in private datacenters. Massive markets are powered by high-performance compute (HPC), with total annual spend expected to reach $55 billion by 2024. Workloads in the scientific R&D category often benefit from the advantages of hybrid public cloud and on-premises computing. Powerful computers allow researchers to undertake high volumes of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling, many of which would take months on traditional computing platforms (or years if done by hand). But less than 20% of HPC workloads run in the cloud today.

Rescale was cofounded in 2011 by Joris Poort and Adam McKenzie, former aerospace engineers at Boeing who leveraged AI techniques to optimize the 787’s wing structure. At the University of Michigan while studying mechanical engineering and mathematics, Poort had an opportunity to work on an aerospace project, which soon became his passion. After graduating magna cum laude in mechanical engineering and math at University of Michigan, he later graduated magna cum laude in aeronautics and astronautics at University of Washington. At Boeing, Poort’s and McKenzie’s experience building an HPC simulation environment informed Rescale’s business model: an infrastructure- and software-as-a-service hybrid cloud infrastructure platform tailored for HPC, specifically the R&D and IT community.

“Industries like aerospace, jet propulsion, supersonic flight all require massive computer simulations based on AI and specialized hardware configurations. Historically the science community has run these workloads on on-premises data centers that they directly built and maintain,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “Rescale was founded to bring HPC workloads to the cloud to lower costs, accelerate R&D innovation, power faster computer simulations, and allow the science and research community to take advantage of the latest specialized architectures for machine learning and artificial intelligence without massive capital investments in bespoke new data centers.”

Rescale enables customers to run jobs on public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, and Oracle. And to those customers, Rescale makes available a network that spans 8 million servers with over 80 specialized architectures with resources like Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs, Intel Skylake processors, and over 1TB RAM, delivering a combined a 1,400 petaflops of compute. Whether they leverage compute from Rescale’s infrastructure or from a third-party provider, customers gain access to software that supports more than 600 simulation applications for aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, life sciences, electronics, academia, and machine learning, including desktop and visualization capabilities that let users interact with simulation data whether or not jobs have finished.

Rescale

Rescale provides both on-demand and long-term environments and pricing structures, allowing customers to launch single batch jobs, advanced optimization jobs, and large designs of experiments. Moreover, the platform features an enterprise simulation environment and an administrative portal along with direct integrations and management of on-premises HPC resources, schedulers, and software licenses. Rescale’s file management capabilities support the transfer, organization, and storage of simulation input and output files with unlimited storage. And the company’s API and command-line interface enable the porting of applications and programmatic bursting of compute jobs.

Rescale says that over 300 businesses use its hardware and software, among them Amgen, Denso, Airbus, Nissan, Oak Ridge National Labs, Samsung, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2020, Google and Microsoft kicked off a program with the startup to offer resources at no cost to teams working to develop COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Rescale provides the platform that researchers launch experiments and record results on, while Google and Microsoft supply the backend computing resources.

“Rescale is the first HPC cloud platform created specifically for digital R&D empowering the research scientists and engineers that are building the future,” Poort said in a statement. “Rescale gives engineers simple access to thousands of preconfigured software and hardware profiles, the on-demand capacity of the public cloud provider of their choice, and the ability to focus on R&D outcomes and speeding delivery of new innovation, instead of managing HPC infrastructure.”

Hitachi Ventures, Microsoft, Nautilus Venture Partners, Nvidia, Republic Labs, and Samsung Catalyst Fund participated in Rescale’s series C announced today. It brings the company’s total raised to date to over $100 million following a $32 million series B round in July 2018.

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