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Direct2Silicon nabs $9M to lower cost of chip production

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Direct2Silicon, the San Jose, Calif. maker of direct-write e-beam lithography software used to create system-on-a-chip integrated circuits, has filled out its second round of funding, now totaling $9 million. The money will go toward market development for its design-for-e-beam technology, which is said to save semiconductors substantial time and upfront mask costs.

This is great news for the ailing semiconductor industry. Mask budgets hover at $3 million for 40-nm chips, with makers pretty much required to commit to high-volume production before they have a sense of the demand. And with chip architecture shrinking more and more, these costs are going up. But D2S claims that its e-beam technology allows these companies to cost-effectively produce chips in smaller volumes and faster, with lower risk.

Already, D2S has forged partnerships with 19 semiconductor companies to use and promote its technology as part of its so-called “eBeam Initiative.” The purpose of this program is to attract investment for the method and to help companies begin using the system as painlessly as possible.

D2S raised $7.2 million of the round in mid-March from previous backers Benchmark Capital, Cadence Design Systems and Advantest. DAG Ventures jumped in later to co-lead the round with Benchmark.