Silicon Cloud International is preparing to expand access to its network-based design environment beyond the universities and research institutes using it today to commercial users, particularly those working on designs for the internet of things (IoT).
Silicon Cloud CEO Mojy Chian said: “So far the company has focused on providing turnkey platform for universities and research institutes. From that we have built up a pretty wide networks of partners and founders that have provided to us their PDKs and tools.
“To support the environment, we established two private-cloud centers that we own. One is in US and there is one in Singapore. That second cloud centre was jointly funded by Cisco and the government of Singapore.
“Part of the reason why Cisco is very interested in us is that we are, in effect, an IoT design-enablement company. We are providing a cloud-based turnkey design-enablement platform for IoT-node design companies.
Chian added: “This whole concept of pay per use model we believe is very appealing to smaller companies. Today, if you look at the semiconductor space there are not many small companies around. Our view, going forward, is that this will change. The change factor in our view is IoT, which uses simpler, lower-cost devices. They don’t need advanced process technologies.
“There is going to be a wide spectrum of types of IoT devices. From very simple things to sense temperature to more complicated things like video pattern recognition. The lack of need for advanced technologies will bring new breed of design company not just in US but worldwide.”
As well as being smaller, the IoT startups and specialists will be more open to using a turnkey, offsite flow than building one themselves, Chian argued: “If you look at the demographics of the IoT node designers, the majority come from a system background and not a chip-design background.
“Today a lot of IoT devices out there are using discrete components. Because they want to put together a system as quickly as possible to do app development and get customer design wins. So buy sensors from an Avago, incorporate a Freescale processor, and power management from somewhere like TI. These solutions, though they will get them going very quickly, are not efficient in terms of usage of power, cost, footprint.”
“As they go to production, they will be forced to integrate this [initially discrete] solution. This is where we will see the number of design starts going up. Right now we see a lag between IoT taking off and the needs related to IoT design. At the front end, the nodes are based on discrete components, then over time they have to integrate,” Chian claimed.
Silicon Cloud plans to accept its first commercial customers in September. “We have some tools, IP, and foundry partners lined up so far. We hope to increase the number of partners by the time we accept customers. We will have a release in July when we will announce their names,” Chian said.
“Never been before has any company offered a multivendor client based pay-per-use semiconductor design. The system that we provide is much more than just putting EDA tools in the cloud. What we provide is a turnkey design platform in the cloud. We believe that the timing is right.”