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Flex Logix Raises $5 Million for Embedded FPGAs

"We now have customers with working silicon, multiple licensees and are seeing our first repeat designs," said Geoff Tate, the chief executive of Flex Logix and a former chief of Rambus, in a statement.

Flex Logix, a start-up selling the blueprints to embedded FPGAs for everything from networking hardware and data centers to microcontrollers and sensors, said Monday that it had raised $5 million in its latest funding round.

The intellectual property seller plans to hire engineering and sales staff to handle its growing list of customers. "We now have customers with working silicon, multiple licensees and are seeing our first repeat designs," said Geoff Tate, the chief executive of Flex Logix and a former chief of Rambus, in a statement.

Flex Logix's cores can be programmed and customized for different applications, like deep learning or wireless networking. The changes happen at the register transfer level of Flex Logix's cores, which are meant to be embedded in larger chips, where circuits for computing, signal processing, and power management share the same silicon.

Cheng Wang, the founder and senior vice president of engineering at Flex Logix, told Electronic Design last year that “having to change the RTL blocks at any point in the design process could easily cost millions of dollars and add three to six months to the design schedule.” The firm also sells software for compiling code in FGPAs.

The three-year-old company breaks from larger FGPA suppliers like Xilinx and Intel’s Altera, whose chips act like external accelerators for data centers and wireless communication. Flex Logix and others are trying to sell FGPAs for less intensive workloads in sensors and microcontrollers.

The benefits of programmable chips have set high expectations for investors."We believe that Flex Logix's embedded FPGA has the potential to be as pervasive as ARM's embedded processors have become today," said Peter Hebert, a managing partner at Lux Capital, which has twice invested in the company, in a statement.

Those benefits have also not been lost on other programmable chip makers. Last year, QuickLogic started licensing its embedded FPGA chips for wearables and sensor hubs. Achronix, whose eFPGA cores have lured almost $130 million in venture funding since 2004, markets its chips for accelerating workloads in servers and wireless hardware.

Flex Logix’s funding round was led by Eclipse Ventures and Lux Capital, while additional funds came from the Tate Family Trust, an investment firm whose trustees include Goeff Tate. The company raised $7.4 million in late 2015 and last year announced a licensing deal with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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