Liquid Gets Moreso

Series A will fund development of a new breed of server that scales to thousands of processors

May 11, 2005

3 Min Read
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Startup Liquid Computing Corp. has clinched $14 million in Series A funding to help build what it describes as a new breed of server, although, at this stage, the firm is still playing its technology cards close to its chest.

The funding came from VenGrowth Capital Partners Inc., ATA Ventures, Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, and Axis Capital Corp.

The cash influx dwarfs the $1.6 million that Liquid Computing received as its seed round back in May 2004 and an additional $400,000 received from the Canadian Government to help develop its core technology.

Liquid Computing is yet to release its first products, although Brian Hurley, the companys CEO, gave NDCF some hints as to what we can expect. This will be a new breed of server, which uses a "telecom-style" interconnect, he says.

Hurley refused to divulge too many details although he promised that this will offer “very low latency and very high bandwidth across processors.” The overall system size will be 21 rack units high, he adds, and the system will be capable of scaling from “four processors to thousands."”We’re in the process of executing on patents,” says Hurley, explaining his reticence to provide any more product details.

Liquid Computing’s key message appears to be flexibility, with Hurley touting automation and provisioning of processors as key benefits. “We’re doing for processing what storage area networks and network attached storage have done for storage."

Early trials of the rackmountable system will begin in August. Although the startup describes the technology as “processor agnostic," the initial server will be based on Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) Opteron chips and the Linux operating system.

The current economic climate is not the easiest time in which to drive forward with new server technology. Blade server startup Egenera Inc., for example, was recently forced to reappraise its IPO plans, prompted by volatile market conditions (see Egenera Waits on IPO and Egenera Seeks IPO).

Nonetheless, Liquid Computing says that it is already talking to a number of customers, and, initially, is planning to go after the high-performance computing market, followed by the enterprise data center.Liquid Computing is based in Los Altos, Calif., although the bulk of the company’s staff is in Ottawa. The startup currently has 26 employees, but this figure is expected to rise to more than 60 by the end of the year.

Hurley said the firm is now planning to add additional offices in the U.S., and there are also changes planned north of the border. Liquid is moving into the former Ottawa office of network traffic specialist Cambrian Systems, which was acquired by Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) for $300 million back in 1998. “There’s good mojo in that building,” Hurley quips.

The company was founded back in 2002 by former Nortel execs Hurley and Mike Kemp, who is now Liquid Computing’s CTO.

Are there any plans for another funding round? “We expect that we will go out for another round to support our market expansion in 2006,” says Hurley.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum0

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