Start-up Chip Maker Tilera Wins $45 Million In Investments

Chip design firm Tilera, which specializes in multicore general-purpose GPUs, has raised $45 Million from investors including Artis Capital, WestSummit, Cisco and Samsung.

Tilera on Tuesday said the new round of investment would fund the development of its latest processors and a number of new products, as well as the expansion of sales and marketing efforts.

"The four companies are all new investors, and we think it's quite exciting that they're coming on board," said Troy Bailey, vice-president of marketing for Tilera, in an interview with CRN. '"They include VCs such as WestSummitt, which is trying to get American technology into China, as well as companies like Samsung and Cisco, who see opportunities for our processors in their product lines."

Tilera says its processors, which include hundreds of cores packed onto a single processor, offer compute performance, power-efficiency, and ease of programming. The chips can serve a multitude of purposes, including network processing, digital signage processing and multimedia processing, according to Bailey.

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Tilera intends to bring its next generation of products, which scale up from 16 to 100 cores on some applications, to market later this year. Bailey said Tilera will launch 64-bit processors for data centers, and cloud servers in particular, in the second quarter.

Bailey says Tilera's technology fits well in the cloud computing space.

"We use Intel processors because that's what's available. But they're really not always aligned with the workload. If you have lots of efficient cores you're a better fit," he said. "We've done benchmarking with some customers and OEMs put together a data center server, and our chip outperforms the dual-core Intel solution with one-fifth the power."

Bailey said the company is intrigued by the server market's quest for low-powered processors and has already started product testing for servers using Tilera processors. Tilera's multi-purpose processors were designed to provide parallel performance at low power, but each of the cores are proprietary cores, and that creates some challenges, said Bailey.

"The chips feature one a mesh architecture running across the whole things, so cores aren't waiting to get on the bus which burns a lot of power," Bailey said.

NEXT: The History Of Tilera

The foundation for Tilera's technology was established at MIT in 1994, when Tilera began developing what Bailey called a "radically different value proposition". In 2002, the company earned funding to develop a 16-core processor on an integrated chip with Mesh network. In 2004, Tilera gained IP rights from MIT and to develop its first four-gigabit 64-core processor, based on general purpose cores with the ability to run Linux as well as x86 applications.

In 2007, Tilera followed-up with a 36-core processor and by 2013 expects to take its highly-scalable technology to 225 cores.

"That first research conducted fifteen years ago has given us a real advantage," Bailey said. "We've done a lot of things to make parallel computing a lot easier.

Bailey said that Intel, in contrast, is now going from 8 to 12 cores on its newest processors, and moving existing code on to Tilera,

"We get very quick results," Bailey said. "It's nice to have good news in semiconductors, and VCs are willing to put money behind good products."