Tabula Raises $108 Million For Programmable Chips - InformationWeek
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3/29/2011
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Tabula Raises $108 Million For Programmable Chips

The programmable logic semiconductor designer notched one of the largest venture capital rounds ever for a private chip company.

Tabula, a privately held company that designs programmable logic semiconductors, has secured $108 million in funding, one of the largest rounds of funding ever for a private chip company.

The company announced Monday that the Series D financing was led by Crosslink Capital and DAG Ventures. Existing investors also participated, including Balderton Capital, Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, Integral Capital, and NEA.

Founded in 2003, Tabula introduced a year ago its 40-nanometer Abax family of programmable logic devices (PLDs), which are electronic components used to build digital circuits. A PLD has an undefined function after manufacturing and is programmed later to perform a particular task.

The company emerged from stealth mode last year and made waves in the technology industry with the introduction of a 3D programmable logic architecture, which the company calls Spacetime. The device is expected to provide a less expensive replacement for custom logic chips. Tabula started mass production of its Abax chips late last year.

"Tabula's Spacetime technology addresses the problems at the heart of the programmable logic market today by delivering unprecedented capabilities at unmatched cost points compared to FPGAs (an alternative device called a field-programmable gate array)," Gary Hromadko, venture partner of Crosslink Capital, said in a joint statement with Tabula. "Tabula represents the largest market opportunity of any private semiconductor company in the industry today."

The PLD market grew much faster last year than the overall semiconductor market, according to research firm IHS iSuppli. Driving the growth was use of PLDs in wired communications and industrial market applications.

Tabula plans to use the latest round of funding for future product development, to speed up production of the Abax product family, and to expand customer and partner support infrastructures. The only other chip company in the last 10 years to raise more money in a single round was Cortina Systems, which raised $132 million in 2006, according to electronics publication EE Times.

Tabula's ability to raise so much money reflects the amount of interest in reconfigurable systems. PLDs today typically comprise a microprocessor with a fixed function surrounded by programmable logic. The advantage of the PLD is its ability to let designers add features without worrying about the microprocessor.

Tabula also provides developments tools, called Stylus, for programming its Abax semiconductors.

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