By Malia Spencer – Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal
A cloud computing startup founded by a trio of ex-Intel employees has secured $1.5 million from investors.
Megh Computing plans to use the haul to build out a toolset designed to make a key element of data center technology easier to use for customers.
The year-old company helps accelerate workloads within data centers. It’s currently boosting the performance of servers running real-time analytics for customers, said co-founder and CEO Prabhat K. (PK) Gupta.
Workloads such as real-time analytics require heavy computing capabilities. Public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, as well as private data centers, have turned to field programmable gate array technology to boost performance.
“What we provide are software libraries that run on FPGAs and plug into the user applications and help it run faster,” Gupta said. “By using FPGA accelerators, it’s lower latency and opens new capabilities in the platform.”
Portland Seed Fund led the round, which included Rogue Venture Partners, Oregon Venture Fund and individual angel investors. It’s one of the few rounds PSF has led, as the fund usually invests alongside others.
“We saw a world class team that is doing something that has been really hard in the past,” said PSF Co-Managing Director Jim Huston said.
While FPGA technology has been around for decades, it’s difficult to program and use. Companies typically use FPGA to prototype before building application specific chips. But with the growth of compute heavy tasks like real-time analytics, artificial intelligence and computer vision, FPGAs are becoming more important and more widely used.
“Megh has developed a set of libraries and APIs to make the ability to program the FPGA in the data center easier and faster and allow people to come up with applications much faster without as much unique or special training,” said Huston. “The bet we see is the need for FPGAs in the data center growing dramatically.”
Megh is based in the Portland State University Business Accelerator. It has nine employees: five in Portland and four in India. The company will use this funding to build out both teams, said Gupta. He’s seeking software programmers, FPGA programmers, a product marketing person and a sales person.
Gupta has deep expertise in the FPGA space. He spent 16 years at Intel and was most recently general manager of the company’s Xeon+FPGA product, which resulted from combining Intel’s powerful Xeon server chip with the FPGA technology brought into the company from the Altera acquisition in 2016.
Gupta had been a senior director in Intel’s data center group. His work with computing accelerators, like FPGAs, spurred the chip giant into buying FPGA maker Altera for $16.7 billion. That deal is Intel’s largest to date.
“We saw the opportunity to build a complete solution,” Gupta said of the decision to leave Intel and build Megh. “(Customers) are looking for solutions to use FPGAs efficiently. We fill that gap in the market. It’s a very big opportunity. We set up a team to go after this and we have excellent traction.”
The company has a handful of early users and expects to start larger customer trials later this year, with the first full deployments of the technology set to arrive next year.
To go to market, Megh is working with companies like Intel, that make the FPGAs, and cloud providers that offer FPGAs to enterprise clients. The Megh software is offered through those cloud providers to enterprise customers. So far, Megh customers include a leading retailer and financial services provider.