An explosion in demand for applications with real-time data analytics has created scaling problems inside companies trying to run those applications on conventional hardware, which is just one reason why Megh Computing has raised $1.75 million in new funding to help companies tackle this problem with specialized chips.
Megh, founded by a team of Intel veterans that led the chip-making giant’s work with FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays), has now raised $3.25 million from new and existing investors. Previous investors Rogue Venture Partners and Oregon Venture Fund led the new round, and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund joined existing investor Portland Seed Fund in the new round.
“We are showing how with FPGA we can get much lower latency and much higher performance than existing software solutions,” said Prabhat Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Megh Computing, in an interview with GeekWire.
FPGAs have been around for decades, but they have mostly been used inside special-purpose equipment like networking routers or medical devices. Unlike general-purpose processors used in PCs and servers, FPGAs can be reconfigured by customers to concentrate performance around their specific needs, but that reconfiguration process is tricky and companies working with traditional IT tools don’t have a lot of experience using those types of chips.
However, because FPGAs show special aptitude for real-data analytics or machine-learning inference, more and more traditional IT shops are giving them a look. Cloud companies like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure offer FPGAs as a cloud service, and server vendors like Dell and HPE are also starting to bundle FPGAs with their usual gear.
Megh’s software helps companies that want to take advantage of FPGAs manage the complexity of these new-to-them chips while improving the performance and latency of applications running on those chips. The company is currently working with customers in the retail and finance industries (Gupta declined to name names) on its first official product, which it expects to release in the second half of next year, he said.
A lot of Megh’s early customers plan to use FPGAs and its software on their own hardware rather than cloud services, Gupta said, which makes some sense given that retail and finance companies have to work around a lot of restrictions — both technical and legal — on how they use real-time data. But those customers are building their on-premises FPGA applications in ways that will allow them to migrate those applications to cloud services when they are ready to move real-time data applications into the cloud alongside some of the more boring stuff, he said.
Megh has ten employees in Portland and six in Bangalore, India, with plans to use the new funding to hire additional engineers as the product takes shape, Gupta said. Megh joins Eclypsium as another Portland-area startup founded by Intel veterans to receive new funding in the second half of 2018.
(Editor’s note: This post was updated to clarify the amount of funding received in this round.)