Quadric.io raises $15M to build a plug-and-play supercomputer for autonomous systems



Quadric.io, a startup founded by some of the people behind the once-secretive bitcoin mining operation “21E6,” has raised $15 million in a Series A round which will finance the development of a supercomputer designed for autonomous systems.  

The round was led by automotive Tier 1 supplier DENSO and its semiconductor products arm NSITEXE, which is also one of Quadric.io’s clients for future electronic systems in all levels of autonomous driving alternatives. Leawood VC also participated in the Series A round.

The company says it will use the injection of funds to build its product out and hire business development, as well as more people.

Pear, Uncork Capital, SV Angel, Cota Capital and Trucks VC are seed investors in Quadric.io.

The roots of Quadric.io grew from a seemingly disconnected mission to produce an agricultural robot designed to alter the way vineyards were handled. The company launched in 2016 by CEO Veerbhan Kheterpal, CTO Nigel Drego and CPO Daniel Firu — all co-founders of 21 Inc.. The bitcoin startup, once called 21E6, would later rebrand as Earn.com before being acquired by Coinbase for $100 million.

Quadric’s original plan was stymied by a few fundamentals. The ag robot has been weighed down by batteries which became too unwieldy to move amongst vineyard rows and the processing time to turn loads of environmental data.

Quadric looked for a chip for processing on the border, designed and that supported decision making in real time — all while crunching data faster and sipping, not slurping on power. That need grew into Quadric’s product now: a supercomputer that the company says hits that sweet spot of power consumption and computational speed.

Kheterpal noted in a recent article on Medium that Intel’s CPUs work “very well for standard computer processing” and Nvidia’s GPUs have “ushered in astounding new images processing for gambling and much more. ” But, he contended, Quadric needed something neither of these businesses could provide: a processor.

A unified structure was created by the business in the supercomputer that permits artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. The supercomputer, which is constructed around the Quadric Processor, is plug-and-play. This means people build their application to support “ near-instantaneous and can plug in their detector set ” decision making, Quadric states. The business claims that early testing of Quadric’s system has shown up to 100 times lower latency and a 90% reduction in power consumption. 

Quadric designed the instruction set, system architecture and chip architecture of the processor. System-level production is done at a contract manufacturer in Santa Clara, Calif., while processor manufacturing and assembly is done in Asia.

Quadric argues this underlying technology is a necessity for businesses developing systems which will be used in the transportation, construction, agriculture and warehousing businesses. The underlying tech that supports autonomous machines used in these businesses solves a portion of the full application or either lacks the performance, according to Quadric.

The startup contends that machines with autonomous capabilities require speed and responsiveness “on the border ” — significance in the cloud, not at the machine level.   

Other firms, most recently Tesla, have chosen to build their own chips to meet this specific need. But as Kheterpal notes, not all businesses have the resources to build the tech from the ground up. 

“ Quadric is a plug and play alternative that eliminates the need for building heterogeneous systems with software integration prices and significant hardware   —   thereby taking years from product development roadmaps,” Kheterpal wrote.

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