| ATHENS, Greece Intellectual-property licensing company On Demand Microelectronics GmbH is seeking venture capital investment to help it transform itself into fabless chip company, a business model for which it believes the financial returns on its efforts will be higher. “We need $20 million to go fabless,” said Ronald Lintner, On Demand’s chief financial officer, during a venture capital pitching panel at The European Technology Roundtable Exhibition (ETRE) here Sunday evening. |
A spin-off of Analog Devices, Inc., On Demand (Vienna, Austria) has completed the design of a Vector Signal Processor (VSP) and would “tape out by next March,” Lintner told the audience of technology and investment executives. This is behind a schedule set as recently as July when On Demand was expecting its licensees to have first tape-outs of VSP-based products either in September or November 2004, depending on their progress (see July 11 story).
Lintner explained the intended transition saying On Demand “wants to produce our own product as an IC” to position itself for more market upside by moving as quickly as it can from being a supplier of IP core architectures to a fabless silicon company. “We want to have our own chip,” Lintner said.
The company is working with three semiconductor foundries and expects to tape its design out as part of a multiproject wafer. Lintner did not disclose the names of the target foundries or details of the manufacturing process technologies the VSP has been designed to use.
Despite some skepticism from a panel of venture capitalists who grilled Lintner on the wisdom of entering the crowded HDTV silicon market the CFO claimed the company has a unique architectural approach and a two and a half year road map to share with potential investors. On Demand is targeting the fast growing HDTV market with its VSP technology which is based on a scalable VLIW architecture. The VSP can be programmed using single-instruction, multiple-data (SIMD) commands, which minimizes program memory. It also uses multiple-instruction, multiple-path commands to guarantee full use of all parallel-processing units at all times. The designer can also configure the width of the data path to suit the accuracy of the application.
The company told EE Times in July that it was pitching its VSP as a multi-standard programmable platform whose architecture can be configured and scaled to requirements. “The key value we bring is the ability to provide our customers with architecture for a specific application that can be customized before tapeout,” Rumman Syed, director of business development at On Demand, said at the time.
And at that time On Demand claimed to have signed up two IP licensees for its technology. It remains unclear how the licensees will respond to On Demand’s move to also become a vendor of VSP silicon.