Richard Goering, EE Times (03/10/2005 12:43 PM EST)
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — QuickSilver Technology Inc. once promised to bring a radical new approach to chip design based on its "adaptive computing" technology. But the company was unable to adapt to the realities of the marketplace, and has closed down and is selling its intellectual property, according to its former CTO.
Paul Master, QuickSilver co-founder and former CTO, presented QuickSilver's technology as an example of "what's coming next" at the Easy Paths to Silicon seminar at the Embedded Systems Conference Tuesday (March 8). But he also acknowledged that QuickSilver shut down in January, even though its web site is still up and the company is attempting to sell its IP.
QuickSilver's Adaptive Computing Machine (ACM) technology lets users describe algorithms in a language called SilverC, and map the code into an array of hardware nodes, each containing specific algorithmic engines. Launched in 1998, QuickSilver rolled out its platform in January 2004 and announced two licensees, Chips and Systems (Mt. View, Calif.) and AOI Technology Inc. (Tokyo, Japan), an Olympus spinoff.
The company raised $84 million in venture capital, but it came in a piecemeal fashion, Master said. In the end, it wasn't enough. "We were trying to do something really big," he said. "We needed new silicon material, a new operating system, new design tools — this is not a normal startup."
"This is disruptive technology, and you've got to think differently," Master said. "You've got to get enough money up front to get some significant traction, and know where you're going to make money. Doing IP licensing is tough."
The technology is "cool stuff," Master said. "Hopefully a lot of the ideas will get reused," he said. "In Silicon Valley, ideas never die — they just change and get better."
Master's work in adaptive algorithms and hardware goes back to his days at Boeing, where he started a commercial division that focused on reconfigurable computing. After taking a break following QuickSilver's closure, Master said he's "coming up for air" and starting to look for his next opportunity.