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Tilera Scoffs Up Another $45 Million

The $45 million round was led by Artis Capital Management and includes strategic investors Cisco and Samsung

Tilera, the fab-less chip start-up promising high-performance 100-core general-purpose TILE processors soon with hopes of dislocating the standard Intel-based cloud, has raised a hefty, reportedly oversubscribed $45 million round, even though it says it’s near breakeven and expects to reach profitability by the end of this year. An IPO is penciled in for 2013.

The six-year-old start-up, which had to push out profitability a bit after the recession caused a number of customers to delay products, didn’t expect to go back to the well after it took in a $25 million C round in 2009. Then it only wanted half of the new $45 million and didn’t take all the money offered, according to marketing VP Troy Bailey.

The new round, which brings total investment to $109 million, will go towards sales and marketing and a second design team to work on shrinks while the company’s primary team pushes on to its fourth-generation 225- core chip, code named Stratton, due in 2013.

Thinking of outfits like Baidu and Tencent, the company wants to expand its reach further into China. It’s been shipping many-core chips since 2007 and expects to be widely deployed in cloud and communications infrastructure.

In fact, one of the top five American Internet sites should be running production traffic over Tilera widgetry about now, Bailey said. The start- up is expecting half of the top 10 sites that use the LAMP stack to follow suit along with one of the biggest Memcached users. Tilera’s conscious cultivation of Memcached is supposed to associate Tilera with servers.

Apparently the Internet giants are designing their own Tilera boxes, which can reportedly make Google’s servers look wimpy.

Initial users of Tilera’s RISC-based chips were hush-hush security outfits not given to advertising the underpinnings of their widgets. Quanta, one of Tilera’s existing investors, is now pushing out an eight-chip 512-core 2U server, demonstrated last June, that’s based on Tilera’s second-generation 64-core TILE Pro chip.

One 32-bit Tilera 64-core chip is supposed to outperform two quad-core Intel Nehalems on benchmarks yet use only a fifth the power.

ARM also has designs on the cloud but can only manage a small compute node, Bailey said. Sixteen ARM cores can only match one-fourth the performance of two quad-core Nehalems and ARM is probably a year or two away from managing a 64-bit chip.

Tilera’s 64-bit third-generation TILE-Gx family, which includes the 100- core chip, is supposed to start sampling this quarter, maybe a quarter behind its 14-month-old roadmap. The other three members of the 40nm Gx family are chips with 16, 36 and 64 cores. Expected prices range from $500 to $1,000.

TILE chips are also directed at networking, wireless and multimedia infrastructure applications. They are supposed to be easy to program using ANSI C/C++ compilers, GNU tools and the Eclipse IDE. Intel’s going to 12 cores helps program the programmers for multi-core development, Bailey said.

The company claims 150 customers and 60-odd design-wins.

The $45 million round was led by Artis Capital Management and includes strategic investors Cisco and Samsung.

Also kicking in were WestSummit Capital Management and Comerica Bank along with existing investors Walden International, Bessemer Venture Partners and Columbia Capital. Tilera’s other strategic investors include Broadcom, NTT Finance and VentureTech Alliance.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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