Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), or commercial integrated circuits, are a hot topic in technology. Because they are relatively affordable and can be programmed for a range of use cases, they have become particularly popular in the AI and machine learning space, where they have been used to accelerate the training of AI systems.
The size of the global FPGA market could reach $14 billion by 2028, according to one estimate, from $6 billion in 2021.
One startup looking to enter the ground floor is Rapid Silicon, which announced this week that it raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by Cambium Capital. Launched in 2021, Rapid Silicon’s goal is to promote, adopt and implement open source technology to address the low-to-midrange FPGA market, according to CEO and co-founder Naveed Sherwani.
“Rapid Silicon’s software…is leading the programmable revolution as the industry’s first and only commercial open-source FPGA design suite,” said Sherwani, former Intel chief executive and former CEO of the semi-automatic startup. -SiFive drivers, in an e-mail interview. “The latest round of funding will be used to further invest in Rapid Silicon’s product portfolio, support the launch of its first low-end FPGA product…and build on the company’s momentum to drive adoption. open source software for commercial applications.
Rapid Silicon is currently developing two products: Raptor and Gemini. Raptor is electronic design automation software with an interface for designing FPGA applications, while Gemini is a 16-nanometer FPGA with hardware including a dual-core Arm processor, external memory controller, and connectivity ethernet. Sherwani pointed out that Rapid is based on open-source software – another industry first, he says – and designed to meet the needs of FPGA developers solving challenges in industries such as healthcare, automotive and industrial. ‘industry.
“Customers are looking for innovative ways to program FPGAs, reduce support load by leveraging the open source ecosystem of active expertise and development engineers, and shorten time to market,” added Sherwani. “With open source software, Rapid Silicon is breaking down barriers and providing customers with a robust end-to-end FPGA design workflow. The open source software enables users to design complex applications quickly and efficiently on our FPGA devices.
Gemini is not commercially available, but Sherwani says he expects the FPGA to hit the market by the end of the first quarter. Meanwhile, Rapid Silicon generates revenue – between $2 million and $3 million a year – through the licensing of its intellectual property.
The FPGA space has some formidable competitors, including Intel, which several years ago acquired UK companies Omnitek and Altera to double down on FPGA-based solutions for video and AI applications. But Landon Downs, the managing partner of Cambium Capital, said he saw “tremendous” potential in Rapid Silicon’s tooling and hardware strategy. While this may sound like hyperbole coming from a VC, Rapid Silicon obviously intrigues investors; the company expects to close a $15 million extension of its Series A in the coming months at a pre-money valuation of $80 million.
“Driven by his world-class focus and talent, we believe Rapid Silicon is poised to revolutionize silicon design turnaround time and deliver solutions that meet and exceed performance, power, surface and time to market for next generation applications,” he said in a press release. “We see immense potential in the company’s AI-enhanced EDA tools, and we believe this team has the experience to bring these solutions to the global market.”