Berkeley’s SkyDeck Offers Chip Design Support Worth Millions to Startups

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could be enhanced by chips that are “super-optimized” to do a few things well, such as processing videos or improving camera functions, Tang says.

Software developers and chip designers will be mingling together at SkyDeck’s multistory space atop an office tower in downtown Berkeley, just outside the UC Berkeley campus. Maybe some of the former will aspire to become the latter.

That’s exactly the kind of migration SiFive CEO Naveed Sherwani envisioned when he talked to Data Center Knowledge writer Christine Hall in April. Sherwani said SiFive had made it possible for “people who do not have five PhDs and 20 years of experience” to design simple, customized chips. “We’re talking about chips that are in vending machines, chips that are in wristbands, chips that go into educational toys, chips that go into sensing in cars, chips that go into various home appliances.”

Tang is on board with the drive to democratize semiconductor innovation. But for now, Chip Track applicants will need to have some expertise in chip architecture development. In fact, he says veteran chip designers working in-house at companies like Google, Tesla, and Facebook would be some of the prime candidates if they want to break out, form their own companies, and explore their ideas independently.

“These people are the ones that could, or should apply,’’ Tang says.

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