Aquantia gets $26M for 10 Gig-E Chips

Aquantia has raised $26 million in second-round funding to deliver 10 Gigabit Ethernet over copper, giving equipment vendors and data center operators a chance to deploy 10Gig-E without using fiber … eventually. The chips aren’t available yet, and Aquantia isn’t giving out time lines.

While cheaper than fiber, 10 Gig-E over copper consumes so much power it isn’t any more cost efficient for folks operating a data center. That has limited its appeal to core networking equipment, but the data centers are feeling the pinch of Ethernet pipes. As virtualization leads to higher server utilization, the existing Ethernet pipes represent a bottleneck. It’s kind of like fully utilizing a movie theater; when it’s time to leave, there’s a wait to get out the doors. So far folks such as Google are making do with custom-built switches.

Eric O’Brien, a general partner with Aquantia investor Lightspeed Venture Partners, says Aquantia’s chip, which has moved past first silicon but isn’t generally available, operates at a substantial power reduction compared to others attempting to play in this space. He declined to get more specific, and the company isn’t talking. If Aquantia, or its competitors such as SolarFlare Communications or Teranetics Force10 Networks, can reduce the power consumption problem, 10 Gig-E could make it out of the high-end equipment at the core of the network, and into servers. A market that large would certainly justify the more than $150 million VCs have put into this space so far.