Gavin McLaughlin, Strategy and Communication at X-IO Technologies, told me that the product came about after a wishlist request from a defence customer, and engineering couldn’t help themselves. “What would have taken a palette load of gear is now available in two suitcases,” he said.

I can see a few immediate use-cases: security breach response, seismic analysis, on-site research, and X-IO has addressed some of those already. The Axellio supports offload modules such as Intel Phi for parallel compute, Nvidia K series GPUs for video processing, and P series GPUs for machine learning, plus the Solarflare Precision Timing Protocol Packet Capture offload.

But that’s just the start. I can see a bunch of edge-computing use-cases where people would love to use cloud-style machine learning approaches but just can’t get the data to it fast enough to be useful, if at all. All the sensor data starting to accumulate from the myriad of IoT devices that are proliferating as fast as the data they generate. Complex industrial control systems with tricky optimisation issues.

X-IO isn’t selling this kit direct to customers, preferring to partner with folk like Ascolta, Solarflare, Levyx, and Issac to build systems on top of the Axellio hardware. It doesn’t even have an operating system, so partners can load up whatever software stack they think works best.

Edge computing is really only just getting started, particularly now that cloud people have discovered that physical laws aren’t merely guidelines and the speed-of-light is a thing that exists. I’m sure a bunch of people smarter than me will find all kinds of amazing things to do with plenty of compute capability out at the edge.

Now it just needs a catchy theme tune.


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