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Silicon Valley tech startup Sviral has raised an estimated $20 million in an unusual transaction aimed at boosting its solution for creating distributed data centers.

Sviral takes unused computing power from household devices and uses it to build a power-efficient, distributed data center.

The funding comes from Pinetree Capital, a financial services firm in Toronto, Sviral chairman and founder Gordon Campbell told VentureBeat. Pinetree Capital has purchased 10 million Sviral shares, or about 25 percent of the issued and outstanding shares of the company. Pinetree also has the rights to acquire another 10 million shares, making the total investment worth up to $20 million based on the current stock price of the company.

Sviral basically did a stock swap with Pinetree. So Sviral can sell the shares of publicly traded Pinetree. If the Pinetree stock price changes, then the amount of money raised will change accordingly.


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“They believe that Sviral has a game-changing technology that could be pretty significant,” Campbell said. “That’s why they made a big investment.”

The idea is to exploit “Dark Cores” of the Internet. These are computing brains, or cores, that sit idle most of the time when we’re not using our multi-core PCs, set-top boxes, and other connected computing devices. The fundamental reason those resources are left idle is that computers haven’t been designed to tap each other when they need more power. Problems such as latency and programming complexity get in the way. But the Sviral team says it has figured out how to get all those computers working in tandem.

Sviral’s fundamental advance in its patented technology is in creating software that can identify unused computing power in web-connected devices and then make use of them, COO Paul Master said in an interview. It does so by taking that distributed computing power and tying it all together to create a huge amount of processing power, or the equivalent of web-connected data centers. The advantage is that the Sviral data center is distributed so it doesn’t need air conditioning and therefore doesn’t consume as much energy. Sviral says this technology — developed over the past decade — is true parallel processing and it can radically expand the world’s computing capacity.

“What you are beginning to see are applications that are beginning to smear the edge of where compute resides,” Master said. “It can sit in the edge, the data center, in multiple sensors, and you are beginning to see applications that live on top of this brand new infrastructure. The mobile edge and the core Internet are two sides of the same coin.”

Campbell said he did not try that hard to raise money from traditional venture capital firms.

“We were in stealth mode, and these guys moved quickly,” Campbell said.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Sviral has a sister company, LeoNovus, a publicly traded company that has been cutting implementation deals with customers that make use of the Sviral technology. Sviral itself is in the middle of launching its own consumer electronics product, Master said.

“We have a very unique technology that can speed up things that are impossible to speed up,” Master said. “We are very excited about this proof point. With this infusion of cash, we will work on getting this first product out the door.”

Sviral has about a dozen employees. Master and Campbell founded QuickSilver in 1998. They raised $84 million to create an adaptive computer with multicore chips in the days when Intel, the world’s biggest PC maker, was busy making single-core, single-brain microprocessors. But the killer problem was that no one in the software community understood how to program those cores. QuickSilver closed shop in 2005.

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