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Toshiba, Matsushita help Elixent raise $15 million

Posted: 08 Apr 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:130nm? test chip? hardware? elixent's d-fabrix reconfigurable array?

Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd, two customers of reconfigurable hardware developer Elixent Ltd (Bristol, England), have agreed to contribute to a third round investment of $15 million in the U.K. startup company to help develop the technology and the company.

Elixent announced the signing of Toshiba as a customer in Jan. 2003 and now has about half-a-dozen licensees, including, Matsushita, according to Ralph Weir, director of marketing at Elixent. "We're working with the top tier of consumer vendors," he said.

Weir said customers were often reluctant for their engagement with Elixent to become known and that Elixent had been engaged with Matsushita for sufficient time for Matsushita to build 130nm test chips using Elixent's D-Fabrix reconfigurable array.

Previous investment rounds raised $14 million in Oct. 2000 and $10 million in July 2003. The latest round included investment commitments from Panasonic Digital Concepts Center, the Silicon Valley based venture capital arm of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd and Toshiba Corp. Existing investors 3i, GIMV and NIF Ventures also participated, Elixent said. The $15 million would be used to develop application demonstration platforms for consumer product OEMs.

Elixent was spun off from Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Bristol in 2000 to commercialize reconfigurable technology that had been in development there since 1995.

"Elixent is long a process. We're asking people to do something a different way. During the downturn we we're being told they didn't need it immediately. It was a "tomorrow" problem. But it was the customer traction we had already achieved that helped get us that second round."

Weir said that as potential customers move to finer geometry manufacturing processes Elixent's reconfigurability technologies become more relevant and more valuable. Weir added that finding support for the general principle of reconfigurability was not hard but that the company also had to persuade potential customers that Elixent's was the best way of implementing reconfigurability.

"Proving the benefits of the approach is something we have to do. And to do that we're going to have to beat off some internal programs," Weir said.

"A platform SoC strategy is essential to be competitive in consumer electronics," said Katsuhiko Ueda, general manager, corporate system LSI development division of Matsushita's semiconductor company, in a statement issued by Elixent. "We are impressed by Elixent's technology and believe it will become the de-facto standard for reconfigurable technology inside consumer electronics. It will certainly help to position us well for future market requirements."

Elixent was included in both the first and second iterations of the "Silicon-60" a list of 60 emerging startups.

- Peter Clarke

EE Times

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