Cambridge technology giant and social enterprise evangelist Arm has triggered a new era in silicon prototype development by offering startups in the sector free access to its chip designs – the most widely used on the planet.
The superchip designer says the new program combined with the Arm ecosystem lowers design risk and could fast-track time to market for developed prototypes by anything from six to 12 months.
This is a huge commercial uptick for silicon startups often handicapped by going it alone. Silicon is used extensively as a semiconductor in solid-state devices in the computer and microelectronics industries and startups can now scale with more speed and confidence thanks to Arm’s philanthropic generosity.
The new programme is being delivered through a novel extension of the Arm Flexible Access venture launched last year. This week sees the official launch of Arm Flexible Access for Startups and offers no-cost access to world’s most trusted IP portfolio, tools, training and full support for early-experimentation, design and prototype silicon.
Instrumental to the launch, Arm is partnering with Silicon Catalyst, a specialist incubator for silicon startups.
Dipti Vachani, senior vice-president and general manager, Automotive and IoT Line of Business at Arm, said: “In today’s challenging business landscape, enabling innovation is critical. Now more than ever, startups with brilliant ideas need the fastest, most trusted route to success and scale.
“Arm Flexible Access for Startups offers new silicon entrants a faster, more cost-efficient path to working prototypes, resulting in strengthened investor confidence for future funding.”
Early-stage startups in the sector can now access a wide range of Arm IP allowing them to experiment, design and prototype with various Arm solutions throughout the product development cycle.
Arm defines “early-stage” as startups with up to $5m in funding. Startups meeting these criteria will have access to a broad portfolio of Arm-based processors, including IP from the Arm Cortex®-A, -R and -M processor families, select Arm MaliTM GPUs, ISPs, and other foundational SoC building blocks.
Startups will also be able to supplement their in-house skills and experience with access to Arm’s leading ecosystem of silicon designers, software developers, support, training and tools.
Emerging use cases in areas such as AI at the edge, autonomous vehicles and IoT have spurred a new wave of silicon startups, as illustrated by new insights from Semico Research. Report findings show:-
- There has been a 10 X increase in funding from 2016 to 2019. In the last five years silicon startups have received more than $1.3 billion in funding
- Over a third of startups that have emerged in the past five years are targeting automotive, with another third targeting IoT applications
- In terms of key challenges, semiconductor startups have small engineering teams facing the increasing complexity of SoC designs and need to satisfy a growing range of customer and market requirements in the shortest timeframes possible
- Missing a market window could mean the difference between success or failure, so they rely heavily on a strong ecosystem to enable fast, low risk and robust product development in order to quickly, cost effectively bring a product to proof of concept and beyond.
The strategic partnership with Silicon Catalyst is another significant development in the industry. The incubator is focused exclusively on helping startups accelerate silicon solutions.
Silicon Catalyst members can now access Arm IP, EDA tools and prototype silicon for free – significantly reducing costs at the critical stage of the business.
This latest announcement builds on the early success of the Arm Flexible Access program launched last year, which enables partners to pay an annual fee for immediate access to a broad portfolio of technology.
The program has seen significant momentum, with more than 40 customers now registered, covering areas such as IoT, AI at the edge, autonomous vehicles and medical wearables.
Arm already has a successful track record in driving engagements with innovative smaller customers, hundreds of which have seen significant success using Arm technology, such as AI chip vendor, Hailo, and fabless semiconductor company, Atmosic. This new program will enable further engagements with emerging silicon startups.
Arm technology is at the heart of a computing and data revolution that is transforming the way people live and businesses operate. Its advanced, energy-efficient processor designs have enabled intelligent computing in more than 160 billion chips and its technologies now securely powers products from the sensor to the smartphone and the supercomputer.
In combination with Arm’s IoT device, connectivity and data management platform, the company is also enabling customers with powerful and actionable business insights that are generating new value from their connected devices and data.
Together with 1,000+ technology partners Arm is at the forefront of designing, securing and managing all areas of compute from the chip to the cloud.
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