|Privately held company|
|Headquarters 🏙️||Irvine, California, U.S.|
Area served 🗺️
Number of employees
Solarflare Communications is a privately held technology company headquartered in Irvine, California. Solarflare manufactures and markets enterprise hardware and software, including Ethernet network interface controller (NIC) adapters, network packet capture systems/software, and NIC-level firewall software. The company is known for its strong presence in the financial technology (FinTech) marketplace, where the low latency of its Ethernet NICs have significantly increased trading performance in applications such as high-frequency trading and the delivery of market data from commodity markets and securities markets to traders. .
Solarflare was founded in 2001 to focus on 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking technology. Russell Stern, Solarflare’s current chief executive officer (CEO), joined Solarflare in January 2004. In 2006, Solarflare merged with Level 5 Networks, another 10 Gigabit Ethernet startup based in Cambridge England that was founded in July 2002 by Steve Pope, David Riddoch and Derek Roberts. Solarflare has received nearly $305 million in total funding, with the Series A funding round for $12.3 million in September 2001 from Foundation Capital and Sequoia Capital. The latest funding round closed on November 30, 2016, for $22.24 million, and was led by Miramar Ventures, Acacia Capital Partners, Anthem Venture Partners, and Oak Investment Partners.
Though Solarflare is a California company, a significant part of its engineering workforce is in Cambridge, UK. Solarflare has been credited with creating an engineering job boom in Cambridge, where Solarflare doubled the size of its R&D headquarters, and began expanding its then 70-person headcount. Solarflare has additional design centers in San Diego, California, and New Delhi, India, and a sales office in Hong Kong that services its greater China market.
Products and Technologies
For applications such as automated trading systems and high-frequency trading, the rapid communication of market data and trades between traders and commodity/securities markets is critical; companies will spend large amount of money to shave nanoseconds off trades. Solarflare has employed a variety of technologies to reduce the latency of Ethernet transactions, including kernel bypass (where the Ethernet NIC device driver runs in user mode), TCP offload engine (TOE) technology, and single-root input/output virtualization (SR-IOV). The cumulative result of these technologies is a reduction in “trade half-life” to the 20 nanosecond range. In previous generation products, the company had achieved this performance by utilizing a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) add-on to speed up execution of the TCP/IP stack, but this functionality has been incorporated into the controllers for Solarflare’s latest adapters (the 8000 Series XtremeScale adapters). Another recent change for Solarflare has been the expansion of their sales channel beyond regional distributors and system integrators by signing an OEM agreement with Dell/EMC in 2016.
In addition to the integration of low-latency technologies into the XtremeScale NICs, Solarflare has incorporated firewall-like capabilities into their XtremeScale NICs. This capability allows the NIC to filter incoming packets based on whitelist and blacklist data passed to it from a central management console. The NIC can also be utilized to disable outgoing communications from the server should the server be compromised by malware or hackers. Solarflare has also entered the high-performance storage networking market with the first Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) over Fabric (NVMe-oF) adapter that utilizes TCP. This adapter was jointly demonstrated with Samsung and Supermicro at Flash Memory Summit 2017.
Solarflare holds over 91 US patents covering technology and processes for transmitting, receiving, and processing data. In April 2016, Solarflare sued Exablaze (an Australian Ethernet products company) for patent infringement on four of its patents (8,116,312 and 8,817,784, related to multicast packet reception; 8,645,558, the reception of data via data transfer protocol to multiple destinations for data extraction; and 9,258,390, covering reducing networking latency). The lawsuit was resolved in May 2017
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- Max Bowie. "Solarflare Sues over Patent Infringement, Exablaze Denies Accusations". Waters Technology. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
- "Exablaze and Solarflare Resolve Patent Dispute". Newswire. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
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