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San Francisco, California-based Rescale, a startup developing compute infrastructure for scientific research simulations, today announce that it raised $105 million in an expanded series C that included Jeff Bezos, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Richard Branson, Paul Graham, and Peter Thiel. The proceeds bring the company’s total capital raised to $155 million, which CEO Joris Poort says will be put toward growing Rescale’s platform, service offerings, and workforce.
Workloads across scientific R&D often benefit from hybrid cloud and on-premises computing technologies. Powerful computers allow researchers to undertake high volumes of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling — many of which would take months on traditional computing platforms. But less than 20% of high-performance compute (HPC) workloads currently run in the cloud. Even today, cloud adoption in the science and engineering community remains largely on-premises, relegated to private datacenters.
Founded in 2011 by Poort and Adam McKenzie, former aerospace engineers at Boeing, Rescale enables organizations to run scientific simulations on public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, and Oracle. The company’s network spans 8 million servers with over 80 specialized architectures and resources like Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs, Intel Skylake processors, and over 1TB RAM, delivering a combined a 1,400 petaflops of compute.
“Traditionally, HPC was limited to massive players with massive capital spending budgets to buy and build the latest clusters on-premises,” Rescale chief product officer Ed Hsu told VentureBeat via email. “Now, workloads can run across multiple public clouds and Rescale charges for use — not upfront — for physical purchase of machines and computing infrastructure.”
Scaling up compute resources
Whether they leverage compute from Rescale’s infrastructure or from a third-party provider, Rescale customers gain access to software that supports simulation for aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, life sciences, electronics, academia, and machine learning. The company delivers both on-demand and long-term computing environments and pricing, allowing customers to launch single batch jobs, optimization jobs, and large designs of experiments with programmatic bursting.
Beyond this, Rescale helps to manage on-premises HPC resources, schedulers, and software licenses as well as the transfer, organization, and storage of simulation input and output files.
One of Rescale’s more unique features is its recommendation engine, which leverages the metadata from millions of workloads, tens of thousands of apps, and hundreds of compute architectures. Trained on billions of computational core hours, the engine provides suggestions for optimizing performance across different compute clusters.
“[We] see our main competitors as legacy datacenter on-premises clusters,” Hsu said. “[Rescale] creates a long-tail opportunity for AI and machine learning workloads, since it’s an operating expense and delivers supercomputing capabilities. AI and machine learning benefits from access to the newest chip technologies, fast I/O, and compute that Rescale delivers on its platform; AI can be used on Rescale to abstract many aspects of computing to run their workloads.”
Some analysts forecast an annual HPC market spend of more than $60 billion by 2025, with HPC cloud services showing a compound annual growth rate of nearly 80%. The broad HPC market finished 2020 at $38.9 billion in revenue, down just 0.2% from 2019, according to Intersect360 Research.
Workloads in the scientific research and development category — Rescale’s bread and butter — were estimated to be worth $185 billion in 2020.
Since its most recent February funding round, Rescale claims that it’s added over a hundred new customers and expanded its software catalog to more than 800 apps. The company’s client base now stands at 200 enterprise subscribers and 400 subscribers overall, including several Fortune 50 businesses.
In 2020, Google and Microsoft kicked off a program with the startup to offer resources at no cost to teams working to develop COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Rescale provides the platform that researchers launch experiments and record results on, while Google and Microsoft supply the backend computing resources.
“Rescale believes it is doubling the size of the HPC market with its platform,” Hsu added. “[The pandemic has caused an uptick] in in life sciences [especially] as new customers [have] embraced the platform to accelerate drug discovery.”
Rescale’s latest funding round also included participation from Fort Ross Ventures, Gaingels, Gopher, Hitachi Ventures, Initialized Capital, Keen Venture Partners, Microsoft M12, Nautilus Venture Partners, Nvidia, Prometheus Capital, Republic Labs, Samsung Catalyst Fund, Solasta Ventures, Yield Capital Partners, and more. The company currently has 200 workers and expects to grow that number to 300 in a year.