LONDON James Foster, CEO of XMOS Semiconductor Ltd. (Bristol, England), has been talking about the ability of his company's technology to help create other startups for some time. The idea is that other companies can take XMOS silicon and program it up for a particular application using the C language. The twist is that Foster is prepared to let these companies brand the IC packaging so it is seen to be the client's chip and not that of XMOS.
Foster said Tuesday (June 23) that the first such partner, enabled by the XMOS event-driven processor, is up and running and selling into the market. However, he declined to name the company.
"They are labeling with their own logo and have a couple of products," said Foster. Foster continued that the company's executives consider the fact that its chips are based on XMOS silicon is a competitive advantage and had not given Foster permission to disclose the name. Foster added that XMOS had not insisted in keeping any of its branding on the chip packaging, thereby keeping XMOS involvement in the creation of the chip out of the public domain.
Foster said that as a result of working with XMOS the company had gone from concept to being a fabless chip company in less than two months on an expenditure of less than $100,000, and with no non-recurring engineering spend with XMOS. And because the multicore processor chips are characterized using the C and XC languages, effectively a software programming effort, the company will quickly move to having ten chips in the market, Foster added.
Traditionally producing ten different complex integrated circuits would have taken years of effort and tens of millions of dollars. XMOS architecture has turned silicon into a carrier for software and a dongle to provide some kind of guarantee of payment and intellectual property protection.
"We had to do a lot of hand-holding," Foster said of the eight-week product genesis but he added that two other companies are also moving forward to become XMOS clients with their own fabless chip company identities.