Cambridge startup Agile Analog has appointed a new CEO to develop its analog IP business.
Barry Paterson joined Agile Analog in April as vice president of product marketing from Dialog Semiconductor (now Renesas) in Edinburgh. He replaces Tim Ramsdale who left the company in December 2021.
“Agile Analog is at a key point in its growth to becoming a major player in the semiconductor industry,” said Paterson. “Our funding round of $19 million last year gave the company the resources to be able to re-architect our process agnostic technology from the ground up, and I’m looking forward to getting that technology into the hands of more analog designers as a result of our recruitment drive to increase our engineering headcount by over 50% this year.”
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The company currently has staff of 45 to 50 people on the back of recent fund raising. “We have projections to 80 to 100 by the end of the year but finding talent is really challenging,” he said. “We are moving end of June into a new building in the centre of Cambridge at Radio House. We are having that fitted out at the moment for up to 100 people, but what we need is a space for people to come together to collaborate, not a nine to five desk.”
Paterson has worked for Wolfson, Maxim and Dialog, all in Scotland. “I am going to continue to live in Scotland and be in Cambridge every other week. The plan is for an office in Edinburgh to allow us to recruit engineers and we have a very hybrid working methodology with people all over Europe and Taiwan. Like many companies we are looking at how the world of work looks post pandemic,” he said.
The company is developing analog IP clocks based on a tool that automatically generates analog IP for a process technology. The Composa tool uses tried and tested analog IP circuits from a library that have been extensively tested and used in previous designs, and are fully validated every time they are generated. This gives a similar level of reassurance to the digital IP world’s ‘silicon-proven’.
This is being used to help companies port designs from older process technologies such as 130 and 180nm which are sold out down to 40, 22 and 16nm where there is more capacity. But it is the IP that is more interesting for customers, especially analog to digital converters (ADCs) says Paterson.
“We have customers who are moving capacity but that’s not the majority,” he said.
The Composa automated approach creates bespoke and verified analog IP solutions reducing time to market and increasing quality. It also means that Composa can simply regenerate the analog IP solution using the process design kit (PDK) for a customer on a different process technology when needed, for example when switching to a different foundry or shrinking the chip to suit a smaller node.
“We truly have a disruptive technology that is changing analog design within the industry by enabling analog IP to be automatically generated rather than hand crafted every time,” said Paterson.
“We have to build out our IP portfolio and develop foundational building blocks, and then ADCs and DACs and power conversion , LDOs, eventually to buck and boost converters,” he said. “Running alongside those IP cores we want to build IP subsystems for IoT, wearables, and blend analog IP with digital capabilities,” he said.
He doesn’t rule out selling Composa as an EDA tool. “We have the core technology and the IP and we can see a way to licensing the tool,” he said.
“The Board ran an extensive international search for the right CEO to be able to take Agile Analog from its success in building the platform to scale to more IP and more customers,” said Peter Hutton, Agile Analog’s Chairman. “I’m delighted that Barry has joined us to take the company forward. We couldn’t ask for a better combination of technical knowledge, commercial experience, strategic vision, operational expertise and passion to get our technology in the hands of the wider semiconductor industry.”