SAN JOSE, Calif. Ambric Inc. (Beaverton, Ore.) is closing down and will sell its assets after failing to secure a $15 million series C round of venture capital funding. The company is one of a handful of startups pursuing aggressive multicore chip designs aimed at applications in areas such as video processing.
The company, which employed 69 people, claimed it had as many as 40 design wins across four markets. It had as much as $7 million in business booked for its current processor and work in progress on a next-generation design, said chief executive Howard Bubb who joined from Intel in May 2005.
"We have a strong design, but we just did not have the financing to carry through this VC winter," said Bubb.
"A lot of the VCs are saying they don't want to do any new deals because they want to reserve their cash to fund the companies they are already invested in," Bubb said. "Our existing investors were committed to their portion [of the last round], but we needed to bring a new lead in to take a major portion of the round," he added.
Bubb will try to sell off the company's assets which include its processors, associated software and patents. They include the existing Kestrel processor which sports 336 cores running up to 350 MHz and a next-generation chip with 600 cores running at 600 MHz that was expected to tape out before June.
Although only two design wins are named on the company's Web site, Bubb said Ambric had as many as 40 including 20 in video processing, 12 in medical, eight in defense and one in a wireless base station for a top tier OEM. The medical designs included high-end imaging systems and the defense wins included unmanned observation planes.
"We were 15 months from breaking even, but this was the wrong time to kick off a round of venture financing," Bubb said.
The company never got into production its first product announced at Hot Chips in August 2006. The design wins are for a follow on version that sported higher clock rates, Bubb said.
Many companies have pursued massively parallel processors for applications such as video. Many of them were hampered by the difficulty of programming the devices.
Complex software was "absolutely not" an issue for Ambric, Bubb said. Software "has been our forte," he added.
Among the company's other assets, Ambric has a portfolio of broadcast video codecs including software for Panasonic's AVC-Intra and Apple's ProRes as well as algorithms for medical imaging and wireless processing. The company has been granted six patents and has 25 in process.