Xilinx snaps up 'accelerated computing' specialist Silexica for its SLX FPGA tool suite

AMD hoping to grow its $38bn Xilinx acquisition as it seeks to compete with Intel's Altera

AMD-owned FPGA specialist Xilinx has announced the acquisition of Silexica, a 2014-era academic spinout founded on a promise to "democratise accelerated computing" – primarily through its SLX FPGA tool suite.

"Software programmability is imperative to our long-term goal to accelerate the path from software to application-optimised hardware systems," said Salil Raje, executive veep and general manager of the Data Centre Group at Xilinx. "Silexica's technology complements our existing Vitis solution and roadmap and will accelerate our ability to attract a wider range of developers seeking to leverage our heterogeneous computing architectures."

Silexica co-founder and chief exec Maximilian Odendahl is no stranger to mergers and acquisitions. In November he penned a portentous post discussing the acquisition of Xilinx by AMD in a $38bn all-stock deal, describing it as continuing the trend of "consolidation in the semiconductor industry."

"I think there is an open big topic which hasn't been discussed widely: expanding the addressable market of heterogeneous, adaptive hardware to software developers is a key piece that needs to be solved for both parties involved," Odendahl continued. "This is especially true for next-generation datacentres (as you have C/C++ code as a starting point most of the time with pure software developer teams), where the acquisition of Xilinx makes AMD a 'stronger strategic force,' according to AMD's Lisa Su."

Odendahl would position Silexica, naturally enough, as the solution to "the wall between [the] worlds" of hardware design and software development. Judging by the acquisition, someone at AMD or Xilinx was listening – and nodding their head in agreement.

"Silexica's vision is to create a disruptive developer tool – one that closes the gap between the software and hardware developer domains," Odendahl said in response to its purchase today. "The integration of our technology with the Xilinx Vitis portfolio fully aligns with our goal of making adaptive computing accessible to software developers. We are excited to continue the journey as part of the Xilinx Vitis team."

It won't be for the first time either – in February this year Silexica announced the result of a collaboration which saw Xilinx's Vitis high-level synthesis (HLS) functionality extended through an SLX plugin, adding a series of new pragmas and compiler optimisations.

Silexica was founded in 2014 by Odendahl, Johannes Emigholz, and Weihua Sheng as a spinout from Germany's RWTH Aachen University. It raised $8m in Series A funding in 2016 followed by a further $18m in Series B funding in 2018, during a period when it was focusing on software tools for autonomous vehicles, plus additional funding to bring the total up to $28m.

Financial terms of the deal with Xilinx have not been disclosed. ®

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