Super Micro Computer, Inc, doing business as Supermicro, is a Taiwanese-American founded information technology company based in San Jose, California. Supermicro’s headquarters are located in Silicon Valley, with global operations expanding to a manufacturing space in the Netherlands and a Science and Technology Park in Taiwan.
Founded by Charles Liang, Wally Liaw and Sara Liu on November 1, 1993, Supermicro specializes in servers, storage, blades, rack solutions, networking devices, server management software and high-end workstations for data center, cloud computing, enterprise IT, big data, high performance computing (HPC), and embedded markets.
In 2016, the company deployed thousands of servers into a single data center and was ranked the 18th fastest growing company on Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 list of the world’s largest US publicly traded companies in 2016 and the fastest growing IT infrastructure company.
In 2018 Bloomberg Businessweek alleged that the Chinese military had succeeded in getting microchips installed in Supermicro server motherboards that could be used to compromise the security of networks (see below).
Supermicro’s headquarters is located at the 36-acre (15 ha) Supermicro Green Computing Park in North San Jose, California, along Interstate 880.
From February 1967 to September 2014, Supermicro Green Computing Park was the headquarters of San Jose Mercury News, which built the facility. The main building was designed by Warren B. Heid in the modernist style, which was common for commercial buildings in the 1960s, and built by the Carl N. Swenson Company. During the time it served as the Mercury News‘s headquarters, the main building was expanded from 185,000-square-foot (17,200 m2) to 312,000 square feet (29,000 m2). Until recently, a bronze sculpture, Chandelier by John Jagger, hung from the ceiling of an elliptical loggia at the entrance. The loggia is distinguished by a series of metal columns and the moat that surrounds it.
Claim of Chinese hardware manufacturing breach
On October 4, 2018, Bloomberg Businessweek published a report, citing unnamed corporate and governmental sources, alleging that the manufacture of Supermicro server motherboards had been compromised by Chinese interests. The report alleged that the People’s Liberation Army ordered Supermicro’s Chinese subcontractors to incorporate inconspicuous microchips into the boards, which could be used to enable backdoors for infiltrating networks. It was stated that “in some cases, plant managers were approached by people who claimed to represent Supermicro or who held positions suggesting a connection to the government.” The chips were reportedly discovered by Amazon during a review of Elemental Technologies—a Supermicro client which Amazon would acquire in 2015. Bloomberg reported that the compromised servers had been utilized by U.S. government divisions (including the CIA and Department of Defense) and contractors, and at least 30 commercial clients, including Apple.
Apple ceased using Supermicro servers in 2016 after obtaining a server firmware update compromised with malware,[ while it was alleged that Amazon had divested its physical server business in China because it had compromised hardware.
Supermicro denied the report, stating that they were “not aware of any investigation regarding this topic nor have we been contacted by any government agency in this regard”. Apple issued a statement saying that they had “conducted rigorous internal investigations” in response to inquiries by Bloomberg over the past year and “each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them”. Amazon reported having had “no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications”.
In 2014 the GCIC Center Tokyo Institute of Technology’s TSUBAME-KFC supercomputer, from Supermicro, was ranked first on the Green 500 list.