Boston Circuits, Inc. (BCI) was formed in 2005 to develop “multi-core embedded processors and software for next generation home and business multimedia devices.” The company currently has 8 full time employees and is staffing up. BCI is scheduled to be receiving its first round of funding in the fall of 2005.
The company is focusing on 2 primary markets: home and business multimedia. The home multimedia market includes settop boxes, home gateways, and digital video recorders. The business multimedia market includes digital copiers, printers, connected displays and projectors.
BCI will be competing in this 20 million unit annual worldwide market with architectures like the Sony/Toshiba/IBM consortium that is developing the Cell processor. Key competitive advantages for BCI versus other multi-core processors include the ease of writing software as the multi-core layer is transparent to software, integrated peripherals such as PCIe and USB as well as delivering a solution that lowers overall system costs.
BCI believes traditional bus architectures are no longer valid for large scale SoC implementations in sub 90nm geometries. Traditional buses become too large, and too slow to support 16 or more processor cores. BCI’s gCORE processors employ a new Grid on Chip architecture that arranges system elements such as processor cores, memory, and peripherals on an internal “grid” network, which eliminates the system bus as a bottleneck.
Using the Grid on Chip architecture, processor cores are embedded into an on-chip network to enhance performance, reduce power consumption, and provide improved scalability. The gCORE family of multi-core processors integrates from 4 to 16 32-bit customized versions of a licensed RISC processor cores with system components such as PCI Express and USB. The high end of the family offers performance up to 10x that of current generation RISC processors, according to the company, allowing customers to replace dedicated hardware with software modules running on the gCORE.
Each CPU on the grid is a 32-bit RISC, with special instructions to accelerate multimedia processing. The high level of parallel processing performance allows developers to implement processor intensive tasks such as video compression/decompression, image processing, and networking in software rather than expensive and inflexible hardware.
When a core on the grid is not in use, the gCORE has the ability to automatically shut it down, reducing power consumption and heat dissipation. The gCORE’s architecture allows BCI to put common system level resources such as PCI Express, USB, DDR2 controller, and serial ATA onto a single chip.
gCORE processors are supported by GridWare software tools and libraries, which simplifies software development by automatically distributing tasks to the multiple processor cores on the chip. GridWare works in concert with proprietary logic inside the chip to intelligently distribute processing tasks to multiple processors eliminating the need to program each processor individually.
Initially for embedded Linux, GridWare is transparent to the user application, allowing existing applications to enjoy the added performance of the gCORE platform “as is”. This seamless migration path from single processor applications to the multi-processor world of gCORE is a key advantage of the BCI solution. BCI provides a complete tool kit based on Eclipse and GNU that makes developing new multi-processor applications easy.
BCI will have a family of gCORE processors in production in 2007. The gCORE is a highly scaleable solution and BCI plans future generations to include 32 and 64 cores and up.
Hiro Kataoka, Founder, President and CEO (previously VP of Imaging, and later VP of Worldwide Sales at NetSilicon, via the acquisition of Dimatech, a Japanese company he founded focused on providing semiconductor, software, and embedded system solutions for the digital imaging market.
Aaron Kurland, Founder, VP of Engineering and CTO (previously VP of Engineering at NetSilicon)
Richard Stabile, Director of Business Development (previously VP of Business Development at Imaging Technologies (ITEC) and NetSilicon)
Gregory Recupero, Director of Hardware Development (previously VP of engineering at TimeLab and co-founder VAutomation, which was acquired by ARC)