Monday, December 22, 2008

Tilera: "The Startup To Watch"

This month the Global Semiconductor Alliance recognized Tilera as the Startup To Watch for 2009. Congratulations to founder Vijay Agarwal and his co-founders Devesh Garg (now a partner in Bessemer's Mumbai office) and MIT Professor Anant Agarwal! And kudos to my partner Rob Chandra, who funded and incubated the company in our Massachusetts office.

Tilera has transformed multicore computing by designing a truly distributed chip architecture where each processing core (or "tile") has its own resources such as caches and network nodes. This architecture solves major problems around performance (centralized resources are a bottleneck) and scalability (we're already running 64 tiles on a chip and we'll soon double that). We use industry standard programming tools, running C and C++ code on SMP Linux so it's easy to migrate an existing application to our fully parallel platform. Simply put, Tilera has extended the benefits of distributed computing from PCs down to the chip level.

I'm personally most excited about the impact Tilera will have on security appliances, which increasingly need to process large streams of packets in real time in order to prevent malware, identify predatory behavior, and combat terrorism. Replacing all the FPGAs, DSPs and ASICs in such an appliance, a single Tilera chip is perfect for high volume computational tasks like packet filtering that can be processed in parallel. (Devesh had first recognized this need when he was GM of Broadcom's Security Business Unit.) Tilera fits many other applications as well in processing communications and video (e.g. H.264 codecs) --in fact, we have nearly 50 customers in various stages of design.

The distributed architecture also leads to a greener power profile. By replicating and distributing the circuits, the electron pathways are much shorter, which consumes less power and generates less heat.
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