Investors bet $170mn on Broadcom challenger Innovium
The global data centre industry is bracing for a sea change. As the exponential growth of IoT and 5G generate a tsunami-sized wall of additional data, venture capitalists in Silicon valley are betting big on the imminent expansion of the data centre chip market.
Based in San Jose, California, is leading a new breed of data centre hardware designers hoping to capitalise on the data boom. The company provides high performance, innovative switching silicon solutions for hyperscale, cloud and edge data centre facilities.
On Tuesday, the company announced that it had secured an additional $170mn in equity funding, comprised of investments by Premji Invest, DFJ Growth, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, and multiple strategic investors, along with existing investors including Greylock, Capricorn, WRVI, Qualcomm Ventures, Redline, S-Cubed Capital and DAG.
“Developing highly robust switch silicon from the ground up and powering mission-critical networks at the world’s largest data center customers with a first product line is truly remarkable. The team at Innovium has successfully executed on their vision to provide breakthrough solutions with TERALYNX products,” said Sandesh Patnam, Partner at DFJ Growth. “We are excited to invest in Innovium as they continue to make strong progress in customer deployments and expand in a large, high-growth market.”
The investment represents an informed bet by these high-profile investors that the market is right - and Innovium has the right stuff - to take on Broadcom. Headquartered just a few miles away from its challenger, Broadcom is a $170bn company that has the market making chips that power networking switches made by companies like Arista Networks and Cisco.
Now, Innovium is coming for a piece of that pie. "We have established ourselves as the only compelling silicon diversity option,” said Sanyal.
, commented in a press release that, “We are delighted at the strong adoption at leading OEM, Cloud and ODM customers ... which resulted in over 20% market share for 50G SerDes switch silicon in our first year of shipments. This additional funding, achieved despite ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, validates our vision, execution and momentum in a multi-billion secular high-growth market.”
How is AI helping to manage workloads in data centres?
Workloads are taking their toll on the data centre industry, increasing to the point where enterprises are now turning to artificial intelligence (AI) technology for help in reducing the burden on IT teams while boosting efficiency and reducing costs. But how can AI help, and are data centre managers prepared to hand over the responsibility of managing tasks to machines?
Management through automation
One way in which artificial intelligence can help control data centre workload is through automating it to the most efficient infrastructure both inside the data centre itself and in a hybrid-cloud setting consisting of edge, cloud, and on-premise environments.
If AI is used more in workload management, data centres in years to come will look different to those of today. The technology could see the creation of several smaller, interconnected edge data centres, all of which would be managed by a single administrator.
Reducing costs is something that many, if not all, organisations in the industry are looking to do, mostly due to several factors keeping costs high, such as inflation, and pandemic-necessitated budget cuts, and tougher competition. Jeff Kavanaugh, Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute, said: “AI and automation have proven to be powerful tools in workload management, as it frees employees from time-consuming and mundane tasks and allows them to focus on work that actually requires a human”.
Non-AI tools are reactive instead of proactive
While many data centre managers already enlist the help of non-AI tools to manage tasks, the tools in question are often reactive instead of proactive, according to Sean Kenney, Director, Advisory at KPMG. “They react to the problems in the data centre, but they don't collect data to determine any foresight to reduce the problem behaviour”, he said.
Sanket Shah, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences at the University of Illinois in Chicago, believes AI can also help managers who may struggle to predict their future plans and requirements. He said: “With AI, capacity and horsepower can be allocated in a more efficient manner, allowing organisations to scale and become flexible. Automating certain processes and shifting power where necessary will ultimately lower costs for those [managers] that have rapidly evolving data needs”.
However, the use of AI technology in data centres is not a new concept. In 2014, U.S tech giant Google announced that it was using AI technology it purchased from the AI specialist DeepMind to enhance its data centre equipment management across several sites.
AI’s involvement in the data centre industry is ever increasing. Bill Howe, Associate Professor at The Information School of the University of Washington, highlights this, saying: "There are a tonne of choices and a tonne of limitations, but there are usually ways to mitigate those limitations.
“I don't see the problem of choosing the right methods and engineering solutions ... to be particularly more or less challenging in workload management than any other complex AI application”, he said.
It is clear that the use of AI technology in the industry is becoming more prominent. But what about its ability to replace humans? Richard Boyd, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of artificial intelligence and machine learning developer, Tanjo, said: "Machines simply cannot replace humans in many respects, but there are certainly areas where machines are much better than humans.
He concluded that "popular opinion will shift once AI and ML become prevalent and workers adapt to this new partnership”.