co-founders of Qarnot
to Paul Benoit &
You created the company a little over ten years ago, what is Qarnot?
Qarnot is a French company based in Montrouge (92), which employs 70 people and offers low-carbon and sovereign high-performance computing power. Our strategy is essentially based on the valorization of computer waste heat and a distributed approach: we mainly deploy our servers in existing buildings capable of valorizing the heat released by the computers. Our hardware solutions also enable our customers to reduce their own carbon footprint within their IT infrastructures. So our challenge is both technical and environmental.
You say "low carbon and sovereign", why?
Sovereign above all because Qarnot operates its own infrastructure via a proprietary software platform to orchestrate compute, Q-ware, 100% developed by Qarnot.
A unique carbon footprint because we have a structurally different approach: no construction of data centers, recovery of waste heat, extension of the life of processors, use of refurbished equipment…
These performances are monitored and certified by a methodology called Carbon Facts, which enables us to quantify the carbon footprint of computing at a very fine level of granularity.
You are specialists in HPC, which sectors and which customers do you reach?
Qarnot's activity is historically focused on HPC (High Performance Computing) because it is the most energy-intensive. We are particularly interested in the financial and 3D animation sectors. For example, in the banking sector, Qarnot is mainly involved in risk analysis for the main French banks. Another important vertical: 3D animation rendering, which is very computationally intensive, and which is required in particular by animation studios. Thanks to a highly invested R&D team, we are increasingly addressing new sectors in the field of HPC (fluid dynamics, big data, AI, medical research, photogrammetry, etc.) but also on more general subjects (CI/CD, bare metal, IaaS). Above all, our customers have access to our platform very simply, in six lines of code via an API. The platform is available in SaaS or PaaS, a documentation, as well as several simple and complete SDKs are available!
How many computing cores does Qarnot currently have, and in what form?
We currently have more than 50,000 computing cores spread over many sites in France and Europe, particularly in Finland. Depending on our customers' technical needs (cores, processors, RAM, latency, location, etc.), we process the compute on adapted infrastructures. This makes us a consistent player to meet the needs of companies of all sizes. We are also known for our flexibility, as Qarnot's model allows us to increase capacity very quickly if a customer has a large need for cores. The coming year will see the Qarnot estate grow considerably more.
And isn't the distributed approach more dangerous in terms of security?
No. Obviously, IT security is our priority, as it is for any cloud player. Our distributed and bare metal approach has many advantages. Each layer of our infrastructure (site, hardware, software, HR) is audited. This has enabled us to obtain ISO 27001 and HDS certification for our entire computing chain.
You also mentioned hardware available to IT customers, what are you talking about?
As a result of our R&D work, we have developed a computing cluster, the QB, which enables us to efficiently manage the recovery of IT waste heat. At the request of several of our customers, this type of solution is now offered to them to reduce the carbon footprint of their own infrastructures. This modular approach also allows them to optimize the space and maintenance of their servers.
In short, how would you sum up Qarnot?
It was initially a crazy idea, when the cloud and digital ecology were only in a few minds, two associates, and a few engineers full of enthusiasm, then recruitments to make this idea a real industrial project and an economic reality. Today, it is above all a passionate team, and above all, satisfied customers by this pioneering approach.