NetSpeed Systems has raised a second round of funding from Walden-Riverwood Ventures and Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the world’s largest chip maker. The San Jose, Calif.-based chip design startup will use the money to make it easier for engineers to design networking chips that make the Internet work.
Developing chips has become complicated and time-intensive. So NetSpeed hopes to lift a burden from designers by creating components, or chip intellectual property, which a customer’s engineers can use within a larger chip, dubbed a system-on-chip (SoC). Engineers can mix and match these components to create different kinds of chips that can handle tasks such as connecting thermostats to a home network or providing Internet connectivity in a car. The amount of the investment wasn’t disclosed.
In the end, NetSpeed makes chip development simpler and less expensive. Modern networking chips are the driver of the digital economy, but they have to be designed in a more power-efficient way in order to be used in everyday connected items, dubbed the “Internet of things.” To churn out chips for the Internet of things, chip makers may have to increasingly rely on reusable IP licensed from vendors such as NetSpeed. Or that’s what NetSpeed is betting on. The company says it can save engineering resources and time for its customers.
“This is an exciting time at NetSpeed. The market has shown tremendous interest in our products,” said Sundari Mitra, cofounder and chief executive, in a statement. “We hope to utilize these investments from top-tier investors and leading customers to further validate our products and achieve our vision for revolutionizing the way SoCs are developed.”
NetSpeed said it will use the funds to expand and support its rapidly growing community and user base worldwide.
“The ability to quickly and easily integrate IP from multiple sources is crucial for chip level innovation,” said Lip Bu Tan, cofounder of Walden-Riverwood Ventures and the new chairman of NetSpeed, in a statement. “NetSpeed is tackling some of the toughest SoC design challenges in a very innovative way. The company uses machine learning and advanced networking algorithms in a highly automated fashion to provide the kind of SoC design platform that leading edge companies need.”
“The growing sophistication and power/performance requirements of SoC products are placing increasing demands on on-chip interconnect technology across the industry,” said Rani Borkar, corporate vice president of Intel and general manager of its product development group. “Network-on-chip fabric technology needs to keep pace with the ramping needs of SoCs.”
The Intel Capital investment was led by Dave Johnson, a director at the Intel venture capital division. NetSpeed has created on-chip network IP cores with names like Orion and Gemini. NetSpeed was founded in 2011 and has 30 employees. Rivals include in-house chip designers at big chip makers, as well as Arteris and Sonics.
Intel Capital has invested more than $11 billion in 1,400 companies in 57 countries. Since 1991, 209 of those companies have gone public, and 363 were acquired. Last year, Intel invested $333 million in 146 investments, with 49 percent invested outside North America.
Walden-Riverwood Ventures is a partnership between two VC firms, Walden International and Riverwood Capital.