FPGA Startup Rapid Silicon Enters Market

A new startup, Rapid Silicon, is entering the FPGA market. Its Gemini SoC FPGAs, with hardened CPUs, compete against aging midrange alternatives from AMD, Intel, and Microchip.
Bryon Moyer
Bryon Moyer

Despite the many who’ve tried and failed, Rapid Silicon is daring to launch a new FPGA family. Perceiving a market opportunity in the midrange, Rapid is readying SoC FPGAs, which include CPU subsystems alongside the FPGA fabric.

The new Gemini family ranges from 50,000 to 250,000 logic cells (LCs) and offers 400–550 I/Os. The fabric also comprises true dual-port block RAM and DSP slices. Rapid has revealed the top and bottom models; it’s still defining the ones in between, expecting six total family members. Some CPUs are from Arm, whereas others come from Andes. Rapid plans general availability this quarter; select customers can license its Raptor Design Suite now.

Founded in 2021, the Silicon Valley–based company has engineering staff in Pakistan, Malaysia, and Armenia. It closed a $15 million seed round in 2021 and the first tranche of a Series A round comprising another $15 million this year; it expects a second $15 million tranche to close this quarter. Both rounds include Cambium Capital Partners and Chengwei Capital as investors. CEO Naveed Sherwani has led several other companies, including SiFive, and has experience at Open-Silicon and Intel, among others. Cofounder P. E. Gaillardon, a professor at the University of Utah, is CTO.

The Gemini family targets a market segment the major vendors have largely abandoned as they emphasize the high end and the data center. Although these vendors continue to sell to that segment, development has taken a long hiatus. This appeared to be an opportunity for a newcomer, but Intel has since announced a new midrange family, and we expect AMD to also do so. This will prove challenging for Rapid.

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