Cambridge-based chip technology developer UltraSoC is setting up a major new design centre in Bristol.
“There’s a perfect storm of factors revolutionising the technology business from top to bottom,” said Rupert Baines, CEO of UltraSoC. “This goes far beyond the semiconductor industry. We’re seeing the emergence of ‘self-aware’, self-optimising systems, including technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.”
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The engineering and innovation team in the city is led by Marcin Hlond, newly appointed as Director of System Engineering. Hlond will oversee UltraSoC‘s embedded analytics and visualisation products, and lead product development and innovation. He has over twenty years experience as system architect and developer, most recently at Blu Wireless, NVidia and Icera. He will focus on fulfilling customers’ needs for more capable analytics and rich information to enable more efficient development of SoCs, and to enhance the reliability and security of a broad range of electronic products.
“For those of us focused on the semiconductor industry, we’re seeing a move away from the established dominance of single vendors towards a much more open and almost ‘democratic’ design model,” said Baines. “This is exemplified by the RISC-V initiative, in which UltraSoC plays a leading role. At the same time, our technology, embedded deep in silicon chips and unseen by the wider world, answers many of the broader questions facing tech companies today. We are moving ‘beyond the chip’.”
For example security consultancy Cerberus Labs in Bristol is using the RISC V for a security co-processor for Internet of Things and automotive chip designs.
Aiding chip development
UltraSoC‘s semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) simplifies development and provides valuable embedded analytic features for designers of SoCs (systems on chip). UltraSoC has developed its technology – originally designed as a chip development tool to help developers make better products – for a much wider array of applications. This includes safety and security in the automotive industry, where the move towards autonomous vehicles is creating unprecedented change and risk, optimisation in big data applications, from Internet search to data centres, and security for the Internet of Things.
“We’ve seen an increase in customer engagements; we’re now well into double figures in terms of licensees for our IP,” said Baines. “Our growing list of CPU vendor partnerships enables us to support customers, whatever their platform choice. Those using RISC-V are accelerating particularly quickly; we have become the standard architecture for RISC-V debug and trace. We’re expanding our team and extending our footprint in China and Russia to respond to these opportunities and to address the next set of challenges: building on the industry leadership we have in debug to deliver value from the rich information and analytics that we enable.
“We’re particularly pleased to welcome Marcin, whose combination of hardware and software expertise allows us to better serve the needs of engineering teams, throughout the system development flow, from silicon bring-up to in-life analytics for safety and security.”
This follows a recent £5m investment and engagement with companies such as HiSilicon (Huawei), Imagination Technologies, and Microsemi, who all have design centres in Bristol, as well as Movidius (now part of Intel). The company also partners with ARM, Baysand, Cadence/Tensilica, CEVA, Codasip, Lauterbach, MIPS and Teledyne LeCroy.