Electronic Products & Technology

Arm offers silicon startups zero-cost access to widely used chip designs

New program, combined with the Arm ecosystem, lowers risk and could accelerate time-to-market by 6-12 months

May 10, 2020  EP&T Magazine

Arm recently announced the launch of Arm Flexible Access for Startups, an extension of its already highly successful Flexible Access program. This new initiative offers early-stage silicon startups zero-cost access to a huge range of Arm’s leading IP, along with global support and training resources, enabling them to start on their journey to commercial silicon and business scale. 

“In today’s challenging business landscape, enabling innovation is critical – now more than ever, startups with brilliant ideas need the fastest, most trusted route to success and scale,” said Dipti Vachani, senior vice president and general manager, Automotive and IoT Line of Business, Arm. “Arm Flexible Access for Startups offers new silicon entrants a faster, more cost-efficient path to working prototypes, resulting in strengthened investor confidence for future funding.”

Early-stage silicon startups can now access a wide range of Arm IP at no cost, allowing them to experiment, design and prototype with various Arm solutions throughout the product development cycle. Arm defines “early-stage” as startups with up to $5m in funding. Startups meeting these criteria will have access to a broad portfolio of Arm-based processors, including IP from the Arm Cortex-A, -R and -M processor families, select Arm Mali GPUs, ISPs, and other foundational SoC building blocks. Startups will also be able to supplement their in-house skills and experience with access to Arm’s leading ecosystem of silicon designers, software developers, support, training and tools.

Emerging use cases

Emerging use cases in areas such as AI at the edge, autonomous vehicles and IoT have spurred a new wave of silicon startups, as illustrated by new insights from Semico Research*. Report findings show:

  • There has been a 10 X increase in funding from 2016 to 2019. In the last five years silicon startups have received more than US$ 1.3B in funding.
  • Over a third of startups that have emerged in the past five years are targeting automotive, with another third targeting IoT applications.
  • In terms of key challenges, semiconductor startups have small engineering teams facing the increasing complexity of SoC designs and need to satisfy a growing range of customer and market requirements in the shortest timeframes possible.
  • Missing a market window could mean the difference between success or failure, so they rely heavily on a strong ecosystem to enable fast, low risk and robust product development in order to quickly, cost effectively bring a product to proof of concept and beyond.

As part of the introduction of Arm Flexible Access for Startups, Arm also announced a strategic partnership with Silicon Catalyst, an incubator focused exclusively on helping startups accelerate silicon solutions. Silicon Catalyst members can now access Arm IP, EDA tools and prototype silicon for free, significantly reducing costs at the critical stage of the business.

Arm Flexible Access exceeding expectations

Today’s announcement builds on the early success of the Arm Flexible Access program launched last year, which enables partners to pay an annual fee for immediate access to a broad portfolio of technology. The program has seen significant momentum, with more than 40 customers now registered, covering areas such as IoT, AI at the edge, autonomous vehicles and medical wearables. Arm already has a successful track record in driving engagements with innovative smaller customers, hundreds of which have seen significant success using Arm technology, such as AI chip vendor, Hailo, and fabless semiconductor company, Atmosic. This new program will enable further engagements with emerging silicon startups.

A full list of the Arm IP available through Arm Flexible Access for Startups can be found here.


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