SeaMicro raises $20M for low-power servers

Low-power server maker SeaMicro has raised another $20 million in funding, according to a filing.  A SeaMicro spokesperson tells me the company has now raised $60 million total from venture capitalists and strategic partners, and the company will use the funds to “continue to support our rapid growth, add engineers and engineering resources, expand our sales organization both domestically and internationally and build out our marketing organizations.”
SeaMicro, which recently expanded to a new 68,000-square-foot headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., has designed server technology that consumes a quarter of the power of a regular server but packs more than 2,000 CPU cores and costs about $139,000. The innovation uses Atom chips (s intc) and its own specially designed silicon to manage the networking. The bet is that Internet giants will be willing to buy servers from a young startup to save on the ever-increasing energy costs of computing.
SeaMicro’s technology, which it launched about a year ago, re-architects server components to consist of hundreds of low-power processors and a box that consists of 10 racks and consumes less than 2 kilowatts of power. The server itself can fit on a credit card and eight of them fit on a single motherboard. The basic idea is to strip all the extra hardware and functionality out of the servers to provide enough performance, but not deliver overkill, leading to a lot less energy consumed. Most web servers just need to offer up a website or grab a photo and don’t need to deliver super high performance that gulps power.
One indicator that SeaMicro’s tech could be huge: Intel manufactured a dual-core Atom chip to go inside SeaMicro’s box, and it was perhaps the first time that Intel built a chip especially for a startup. Intel has been trying to defend its territory against low-power ARM (s armh) chips moving in, and SeaMicro launched the second iteration of its server tech in February. SeaMicro also counts Skype (s msft), France Telecom (s fte) and Mozilla as customers.
Other startups like Calxeda are also working on low-power server technology. As Internet companies expand their data centers and devices get always-on connections, the amount of energy that is going to power servers in data centers will continue to grow. Reducing that cost is becoming a competitive advantage.
SeaMicro was previously backed by Crosslink Capital, Khosla Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and those investors are again listed on this latest filing. The Department of Energy also awarded SeaMicro a $9.3 million grant last year to help it field test its servers, and that was one of the largest awards allocated out of $47 million in funding for 14 data center efficiency projects.
SeaMicro was one of our 10 Big Ideas companies at Green:Net and also a Structure50 company. Come hear more from SeaMicro CEO Andrew Feldman at our Structure event on June 22 and 23 in San Francisco.