VMware acquires ML acceleration startup Bitfusion

VMware today announced that it has acquired Bitfusion, a former participant in our Startup Battlefield competition. Bitfusion was one of the earliest companies to help businesses accelerate their complex computing workloads on GPUs, FPGAs and ASICs. In its earliest iteration, over four years ago, the company’s focus was less on AI and machine learning and more on other areas of high-performance computing, but, unsurprisingly, that shifted as the interested in AI and ML increased in recent years.

VMware will use Bitfusion’s technology, which is vendor- and hardware-agnostic, to bring similar capabilities to its customers. Specifically, it plans to integrate Bitfusion into its vSphere platform.

“Once closed, the acquisition of Bitfusion will bolster VMware’s strategy of supporting AI- and ML-based workloads by virtualizing hardware accelerators,” writes Krish Prasad, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Cloud Platform Business Unit. “Multi-vendor hardware accelerators and the ecosystem around them are key components for delivering modern applications. These accelerators can be used regardless of location in the environment – on-premises and/or in the cloud.”

Prasad also notes that to get the most out of hardware accelerators like GPUs, most enterprises deploy them on bare metal. VMware, however, argues that this leads to poor utilization and poor efficiencies (as it would, of course, given that it is in the business of virtualization). “This provides a perfect opportunity to virtualize them—providing increased sharing of resources and lowering costs,” writes Prasad.

The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition. Bitfusion had raised $5 million in 2017 and a smaller, strategic investment from Samsung Ventures in 2018.