arteris 1Designing chips with millions or even billions of components is getting harder and harder. Automated tools that make it easier are vital to engineers. And Arteris has focused on making tools that make it easier to design the tiny interconnections between the components on chips.

Today, the San Jose, Calif.-based company is announcing it has raised a fourth round of funding from Qualcomm, ARM and its existing investors. The $9.7 million in funding will be used to expand the company’s business for “network on chip” design tools.

arteris 2With circuitry shrinking to 40 nanometers wide (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter), the tools and designs are becoming more and more complex (the picture on the right illustrates some of that complexity). The circuitry detail on a chip is as dense as a street map of New York, and chip designers have to make sure that they correctly route the traffic within that chip in the most efficient manner. If they don’t do it right, the chip will be slower, more expensive, and consume more power.

The company shipped its first tools in 2006, and its licensees finished the first design in 2007. Now there are eight products in the market that used Arteris’ tools; 11 more designs have been completed, and an estimated 50 million chips are expected to ship with Arteris technology in 2010. Getting both Qualcomm and ARM on board is a big deal. ARM in particular gives Arteris access to a big market of chip makers who use the ARM architecture for chips.

Existing investors include Synopsys, DoCoMo Capital, Crescendo Ventures, TVM Capital and Ventech. The company was founded in 2003 and has 40 employees. Rivals include Sonics and Silistix, which also provide interconnection designs that can be licensed by chip makers.

To date, the company has raised $34 million. Customers include Texas Instruments, NEC and Pixelworks. The founders previously designed chips at networking chip maker T.Sqware.