Canadian startup demos AI for analog chip layout

Canadian startup demos AI for analog chip layout

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

Startup Astrus Inc. (Toronto, Canada) has developed an AI engine for analog circuit layout that it reckons can speed up chip design by multiple orders of magnitude.

Astrus plans to automate analog IC layout using deep learning reinforcement AI. Traditionally analog IC layout is a manual process that involves multiple iterations between circuit engineer and layout engineer to optimize for area and performance. Astrus intends to allow multiple iterations per day with its AI engine replacing the layout engineer.

After extensive training Astrus will have a nuanced understanding of the art of analog layout, the company claims. The technology works with any circuit but obvious starting points include op amps, SAR ADCs, PLLs, inverters and LDOs, it added.

Khosla invests $100,000

The company was founded by Brad Moon (CEO) and Zeyi Wang (CTO) in 2022 and has received US$275,000 in pre-seed funding from Khosla Ventures, RISC Capital and the 1517 fund. Moon is a 2017 graduate from the University of Alberta where he specialized in analog IC design. Wang was a research assistant at the same university where he worked on AI and deep learning reinforcement.

Astrus is at an early stage of its progress and does not have a product yet but it does have a prototype demo which has received positive comments from users. The company envisions being able to sell tool licenses to support up to 60,000 analog IC engineers in the world at an annual fee of US$40,000 per user or more.

The company has its technical proof of concept but says it now wishes to use its pre-seed funding to create real-world layouts that beat human beings in both speed and quality. Once it has those results the company plans to co-author a white paper with the partner that would preferably be a leading brand name such as Intel.

After that a seed round of around US$5 million would provide funds for productizing and iterating the technology to make it a must-have for circuit engineers. The company is currently recruiting for software and user experience engineers.

According to reports Astrus is in talks with Intel about pilot use of Astrus layout software within the company.

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