Ex-Arm execs' upstart Agile Analog palmed $5m to sink into AI-driven chip design

Robot overlords making robot overlords

A Cambridge-based chip design upstart led by former Arm executives has secured $5m (£3.84m) in venture capital to expand its engineering team and generate more sales.

The seed round for Agile Analog was led by Delin Ventures, Firstminute Capital and MMC Ventures.

Agile Analog doesn't specialise in processor cores like Arm, but in specific chip components that interface between the real and the digital worlds, like digital-to-analog converters (DACs), analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), voltage and current reference circuits, and temperature sensors.

What makes its approach unusual is that the elements are not designed by people, but by algorithms. Agile Analog claimed it has developed an AI-based platform that can design faster and to a higher quality level than the competition. The company will use the same platform for customers wanting to customise their silicon.

The company was established in 2017, in the region sometimes called the Silicon Fen, by CEO Tim Ramsdale, a former veep of engineering and GM for Imaging and Vision business at Arm, and Mike Hulse, a chip industry veteran with 28 years of experience. Analog's chairman Pete Hutton and CFO Barnaby Rix are also Arm alumni.

The outfit hopes to solve reliability issues plaguing analog IP: on its website, it claims that analog components cause the most chip production failures, and up to 95 per cent of field failures.

Analog's wares are intended to be integrated into system-on-chips (SoCs) that can then be used in hardware like networking equipment.

"Analog design is the backwater of the semiconductor industry and we think Agile Analog can change that," said Jonathan Hay, partner at Delin Ventures. ®

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