FPGA Startup Rapid Silicon Raises $15M to Bring Its First Chip to Market TechCrunch
Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), or integrated circuits sold in the market, is a hot topic in technology. Because they are relatively affordable and can be programmed for a range of use cases, they have been particularly popular in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, where they have been used to speed up the training of AI systems.
The global FPGA market size could reach $14 billion by 2028, according to one estimate, up from $6 billion in 2021.
One startup looking to get to the ground floor is Rapid Silicon, which went live this week announce It raised $15 million in the first round, led by Cambium Capital. Rapid Silicon Launched in 2021, Rapid Silicon’s goal is to promote, adopt and implement open source technology to address the low to mid-range FPGA market, according to CEO and co-founder Naveed Sherwani.
“Rapid Silicon… is leading the programmable revolution as the industry’s first open-source commercial FPGA design suite,” Sherwani, formerly a general manager at Intel and former CEO of semiconductor startup SiFive, said in an email 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-cost FPGA product…and build on the company’s momentum in driving the adoption of open source software for commercial applications.”
Rapid Silicon is developing two products at present: Raptor and Gemini. raptor Electronic design automation software with an interface for designing an FPGA application, while Gemini is a 16nm FPGA with hardware including a dual-core ARM processor, external memory controller and an Ethernet connection. Sherwani emphasized that Rapid is based on open source software – another industry first, he says – and is designed to meet the needs of FPGA developers who are tackling challenges in sectors such as healthcare, automotive and industrial.
“Customers are looking for innovative ways to program FPGAs, reduce support load by leveraging the open source ecosystem of active experience and development engineers, and shorten time to market,” Sherwani added. “Through open source software, Rapid Silicon is removing barriers and providing its customers with a robust end-to-end FPGA design workflow. Open source software enables users to quickly and efficiently design complex applications on our FPGA hardware.”
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 annually — from licensing its IP.
The FPGA space has formidable competitors including Intel, which acquired its UK headquarters several years ago. Omnitic And Altera To multiply FPGA-based solutions for video and AI applications. But Landon Downs, managing partner at Cambium Capital, said he sees “huge” potential in Rapid Silicon’s tools and hardware strategy. While that might sound like overkill coming from a VC, Rapid Silicon is clearly piqued by investors; The company expects to close a $15 million Series A extension within the next few months at a pre-fund valuation of $80 million.
“Driven by its purpose and world-class talent, we believe Rapid Silicon is poised to revolutionize the design-to-silicon transition time and deliver solutions that meet and exceed the robust performance, robustness, area and time requirements of next-generation market applications,” he said in a press release. “We see huge potential in the company’s AI-enhanced EDA tools, and we believe this team has the expertise to bring these solutions to the global marketplace.”