Startup jogs the industry’s memory

30 August 2012

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–Anytime EE Times has done an engineers' career survey, most of the respondents say they dream of doing a startup. In reality, only 5 percent ever do one, for whatever reason.

The founders of Memoir Systems here are part of not only the 5 percent, but another unusual startup characteristic: Their technology addresses a broad system-design problem, rather than a niche. Memoir, which sits in the Santa Clara Valley's tallest building right next to Intel, is a startup offering embedded memory intellectual property aimed at SoCs being designed for the networking and multicore processor markets. The company claims that its "algorithmic" systems approach to embedded memory provision can result in an order of magnitude increase in embedded memory performance. 

"We wanted to increase the number of memory operations–the number of times you can address a memory and access data–and that's (a) different (challenge) from memory bandwidth," said Sundar Iyer, a co-founder who serves as Memoir's chief technologist. "We take a memory macro and put a CSS-style algorithmic layer in front of it. How we support that is our secret sauce."

In April, the company peeled a little of the kimono open announcing its Renaissance 2X product. According to Peter Clarke's piece in EE Times:

Memoir's algorithmic memory technology creates multiport SRAMs but based on 6-transistor single-port SRAMs. As such the technology avoids the need to develop specialized 8-transistor memory cells, as is usually done for multi-port memories, Memoir said. In addition such specialized memories are not usually developed until after a process node is stable delaying SoCs that need such memory into a second wave for any given process node.

Acknowledging there is "no free lunch," Iyer said the Memoir approach brings a 10 percent area penalty for 2x performance, and a 15 percent larger area for 3x.

But CEO Adam Kablanian, a veteran IP-industry warhorse, adds: "The alternative is to add 100% area" to double memory performance.

We sat the three executives, including the other co-founder, COO Da Chuang, down to talk about not only the company and its technology but how startups are different today than they were even a few years ago:

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