SAGE Design Automation, USA
Accelerating Semiconductor Startups
For the last two decades investments in semiconductor startups have mostly declined, following the conventional wisdom that semiconductors are a somewhat mature industry, that designing a chip is capital intensive, and that consequently high returns were difficult (despite a few exceptions such as Mobileye acquired by Intel for $5.3B in 2014 or Oculus acquired the same year by Facebook for $2B). The situation has recently changed and there has been a resurgence of semiconductor design. This is a consequence of several developments. The most obvious one is the need of high performance, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence: demand for computing power used in cutting-edge AI projects has roughly doubled every 3.4 months since 2012. The use of edge devices often referred to as “Internet of Things (IoT)” and communication (5G) is also exploding. Somewhat paradoxically, a second cause lays in the end – or at least the slowing down – of Moore’s law: If technology can’t deliver increasing performance, lower power and diminishing costs, then design has to, as argued eloquently in Hennessy and Patterson’s Turing Award Lecture “A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture”. Third, Electronic Design Automation (EDA) has matured sufficiently to enable the design of semiconductors comprised of tens of billions of devices at a reasonable cost.
This talk briefly elaborates on these trends to motivate how Silicon Catalyst, an incubator focused exclusively on accelerating solutions in silicon, has been fostering innovations in semiconductor hardware and innovative solutions in silicon to drive new technology markets since 2015. Silicon Catalyst relies on a unique combination of the right ecosystem, in-kind contributions such as design tools and shuttle runs, strategic partners and an elaborate selection process to drastically reduce the cost of designing semiconductors and to increase the success rate of the startups accepted to the incubator.
Raúl is currently the CEO of Sage, a startup in physical design tools for semiconductors. He is also a partner at Silicon Catalyst, an incubator for semiconductor solutions, and lectures on EDA and Machine Learning Hardware at Stanford. He was previously the CEO of Nimbic, a startup acquired by Mentor Graphics in 2014. Raúl spent most of his career with Synopsys, where he served as Chief Technology Officer, Senior Vice President, and General Manager. Prior to joining Synopsys, Raúl was a Director for the German National Research Center for Computer Science, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Paderborn, and a Research Staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. Raúl holds a B.S and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Chile, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Karlsruhe. He has published over 70 technical papers and written and/or edited three books on electronic design automation. Raúl has contributed significantly to building the design community serving on numerous editorial, advisory and company boards. Raúl was also an Advisory Professor at Fudan University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 1999 and to the board of directors of ESDA (aka EDAC, the EDA Consortium) in 2012.
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