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Altair Invests $10M in Columbia Univ. Photonics Startup

TROY, Mich., December 20, 2022 – Altair (Nasdaq: ALTR) has invested $10 million in Xscape Photonics, a start-up that developed patented technology for photonic chips for ultrahigh-bandwidth connections inside data centers and high-performance computing (HPC) systems (see related story).

In its announcement, Altair said, “Until now, computing leveraged a traditional electronic approach to moving vast amounts of data from chip to chip, which requires significant space and power and produces substantial heat leading to performance challenges as HPC applications scale exponentially, especially in data science and AI. By applying innovative photonics technology, Xscape has developed a platform that connects various computing elements in an environmentally sustainable way while offering the highest possible performance. This novel approach uses photonics to drastically reduce power consumption and heat production while increasing the speed and power of communications, all to support the vast increase in the amount of data transferred from chip to chip, node to node, and more.”

“This investment and collaboration with some of the world’s best innovators in photonics will allow us to stay at the cutting edge of such high-fidelity and advanced technologies that will help our customers solve their problems more efficiently as they look to the next generation of hardware,” said James R. Scapa, founder and chief executive officer, Altair. “Aligned with Altair’s history in embracing high-performance computing and tying our software innovation to the advancements in HPC hardware, understanding how our software can integrate with such technologies in the future will allow us to continue to push the boundaries of technology and help our customers accelerate their pace of innovation.”

The potential for photonics is significant as high-speed data transfer is also relevant for software that facilitates simulation, HPC, AI, and machine learning. In the future, more simulation and compute power will be needed to allow for greater analysis, more sustainable productivity, lowered costs, better products, and faster time-to-market. Shifting to embrace photonics will allow organizations across all sectors – including hardware, software, and product development companies – to accelerate their pace of innovation.

Xscape Photonics is led by Columbia University professors and world leading researchers in photonics, including:

  • Alexander Gaeta – chief executive officer and co-founder; David M. Rickey Professor of Applied Physics at Columbia University and world leader in nonlinear photonics

  • Keren Bergman – co-founder; professor at Columbia University, and world leader in photonic architectures for computing

  • Michal Lipson – co-founder; professor at Columbia University, world leader in silicon photonics, and MacArthur Fellow

  • Vivek Raghunathan – co-founder; senior principal engineer, Product Architecture, Silicon Photonics Founding Team at Broadcom; led Intel’s First SiPh Product Ramp

  • Yoshi Okawachi – co-founder; research scientist at Columbia University and a world leader in photonic frequency-comb technology

“We are proud to reinvent the future of computing by developing the most energy-efficient, high-bandwidth, and high-performance photonics technology that can scale in a sustainable way while meeting the demands of the future,” said Gaeta. “The investment and relationship with Altair will allow us to push the boundaries of our platform and integrate it with the world’s best simulation, HPC, and AI software to help customers in all industries take their innovations to new heights.”

As part of the investment, Scapa will assume a seat on Xscape Photonics’ board of directors and Altair will also secure a seat on the board of observers.

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