"The capacities from the Open Telekom Cloud allow us to set up our accelerator quickly in the cloud and configure it according to the customer's application scenario, for example accelerating standard databases such as SAP."
Dr. Felix Winterstein, founder at Xelera
FPGA: Freely programmable circuits as accelerators
What do blockchain, artificial intelligence and self-driving cars have in common? According to Gartner, they are all among the top IT trends of 2019 – and they all require enormous computing capacities. That isn’t just something that has existed since 2019 – even conventional processes in companies require ever more powerful IT resources that can perform computing operations more and more quickly.
Application acceleration by a factor of 100
Xelera, a start-up based in the state of Hesse, has long since recognized this: The founders have developed a middleware that greatly accelerates data processing. The best thing: Computing-intensive algorithms are processed in freely programmable circuits, so-called Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). These are hardware cards that can be individually programmed depending on the intended use. In this way, they process tasks within a server considerably faster than standard hardware and thus considerably accelerate applications.
"However, most companies don’t have the necessary know-how to use FPGAs profitably. Individual configuration also costs a lot of time and money," says Xelera founder Dr. Felix Winterstein. The hardware-independent solution from Xelera, on the other hand, is simply booked by companies as a service. There’s no need for specialist knowledge about programming hardware cards. With the Xelera solution, companies can accelerate their processes by up to a factor of 100, depending on the application.
Big Data analytics during your coffee break
A winner in the Economics Ministry’s start-up competition: Andreas Duffner, Dr. Felix Winterstein, Alexander Lange and Dr. Andrea Suardi (from left to right) from FPGA start-up Xelera.
"More and more processes are running in real time, whether it's manufacturing, transport, logistics, automotive or services. In addition, there are all the sectors that deal directly with end customers, such as retail," says Xelera co-founder Andreas Duffner. That translates into a lot of potential work for the Xelera suite, which shows its strengths in areas such as Edge Computing and IoT applications. For example, the control of industrial robots often results in excessively high latencies. With the help of the Xelera accelerator, these delays can be significantly reduced.
Xelera can also be used to analyze large amounts of data, for example in big databases that are fed from different sources: "What is now still being processed overnight in batch processes today can be reduced to a quarter of an hour of calculation time during a coffee break," says Andreas Duffner. In this way, companies can create forecast models within just a few minutes that they would otherwise have to wait a whole day for.
FPGA flavors from the Open Telekom Cloud
Companies book Xelera's middleware as a service and operate it in their own data center – or in the Open Telekom Cloud. To make the most of the potential of its middleware as an application accelerator, Xelera relies on the fp1c.2xlarge FPGA flavor and the e2.3xlarge large memory flavor from Deutsche Telekom's Elastic Cloud Server offering. "The capacities from the Open Telekom Cloud allow us to set up our accelerator quickly in the cloud and configure it according to the customer's application scenario, for example accelerating standard databases such as SAP," says Dr. Felix Winterstein.
The Open Telekom Cloud was the start-up’s first choice due to its multi-certified and GDPR-compliant data centers in Germany. Xelera relies on Telekom's fast network for the connection and thus obtains the best possible connectivity with very low latencies for business-critical real-time applications.
With its middleware, the start-up now accelerates processes in a wide range of areas – from market forecasts or risk calculations in the financial sector to real-time analysis of customer behavior in the retail sector and genome analyses in medicine. It’s a solution with great potential that doesn’t interest the start-up’s customers: Xelera recently qualified for Deutsche Telekom's TechBoost start-up program.
Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are Xelera's main focus: The start-up has developed middleware that shortens application computing times by up to a factor 100 – ideal for real-time analysis or the control of industrial robots. To do so, the Hesse-based company uses resources from the Open Telekom Cloud.
Growing market demand for extremely powerful IT for a wide variety of applications
Purchasing own FPGA cards for hardware acceleration extremely expensive and mostly not cost-effective
Necessity of specialist knowledge for the use of FPGA
Limited offer of ready-to-use FPGA solutions from the cloud
Xelera middleware with interface to the Open Telekom Cloud
Use of FPGA flavors from the Elastic Cloud Server offering (fp1c.2xlarge as well as large memory flavor e2.3xlarge)
Planned use of additional flavors and Object Based Storage (OBS)
High level of data protection due to multiple certified data centers in Germany
Spontaneous implementation of individual customer requirements possible at any time
No in-depth FPGA know-how required on the user side thanks to ready-to-use FPGA middleware from the Open Telekom Cloud