This article is part of a series that examines the status of various FPGA startups in light of the economic recession.
SAN FRANCISCOFlush with cash after raising more than $86 million in venture capital over the past two years, shipping working products and with revenue and dozens of design wins already under its belt, FPGA startup Achronix Semiconductor Corp. has the technology and financial stability to weather the current downturn, according to John Lofton Holt, the company's founder, chairman and CEO.
Holt told Programmable Logic DesignLine that Achronix has never had a layoff and isn't planning one. In fact, he said, the company is continuing to cautiously expand its headcount, which currently numbers about 90, even during the recession, he said. He added that Achronix is also on track to exceed its revenue target for 2009, which he described as "single-digit millions."
Achronix is one of a number of promising FPGA startups to appear in recent times, at least some of which appear to be struggling. Some fear that at least some of these FPGA startups will fold, as did Ambric Inc. and Mathstar Inc. last year, or be acquired.
Achronix offers two principle product lines. The most interesting is a line of commercial FPGAs named Speedster, which the company says operate at peak performance of 1.5 GHz, far greater than any other FPGAs. Speedster and Achronix' other product line, a specialized line of products for high-radiation and extreme temperature environments, utilize a patented acceleration technology called picoPIPE, which the company says enables three times the throughput of traditional FPGAs.
According to Achronix (San Jose, Calif.), pipoPIPE speeds the way data moves through the FPGA fabric, using simple handshake protocols to control data flow, without a global clock. While the inner workings of the device are fundamentally different, designs are input using a hardware description language such as RTL, according to the company.
"They do have something unique in the FPGA world," said Rich Wawrzyniak, a senior analyst at Semico Research Corp. "If their [revenue] targets are low, it wouldn't surprise me that they were going to be able to hit those targets."