London-based Intrinsic Semiconductor Technologies has just secured €7.9 million (£7 million) for its tech tackling the memory bottleneck for data-hungry applications. The startup’s solution aims to create a new generation of small devices with embedded intelligence.
Intelligent applications are increasingly prevalent in our society. This has redefined the role and requirements for memory in computers, as they demand more memory with improved performance and lower power consumption. However, current embedded flash tech isn’t keeping up with the pace of development, and can no longer be scaled down to integrate in the advanced chips needed for these intelligent applications. It leads to higher costs and power consumption of two-chip solutions.
A spinout from UCL, Intrinsic Semiconductor Technologies has developed a solution to address this challenge, enabling a new generation of smart devices and self-contained systems with embedded intelligence.
The startup has just secured about €7.9 million (£7 million) to bring its product to market. The funding was led by Octopus Ventures and supported by existing investors IP Group and the UCL Technology Fund as well as InnovateUK grants.
Based on more than a decade’s research at UCL, Intrinsic’s solution uses resistive random-access memory (RRAM). The tech can reportedly read data 10-100x faster and writes it 1000x faster than existing solutions. It also uses standard, frequently used materials, which are less complex or expensive compared to other RRAM solutions.
Mark Dickinson, CEO, Intrinsic Semiconductor Technologies: “We believe RRAM has the potential to become the backbone for the next generation of edge and IoT computers at a time when data-hungry intelligent applications are becoming more and more prevalent. Companies want to integrate more intelligence into self-contained applications and devices so that they can operate autonomously but this requires a paradigm shift in how memory is employed in these environments. By focussing on simplicity and manufacturability in our approach to RRAM we will open up a whole new array of market opportunities and this funding will play a critical role in helping us to attract highly skilled engineers to build out the commercial potential of Intrinsic.”
The aim is that the tech will allow data-hungry applications to overcome the memory bottleneck caused by current external flash memory, delivering higher performance with lower energy consumption.
The tech has plenty of opportunities to make an impact. It could be integrated with applications and devices that operate autonomously or remotely, ranging from driverless vehicles, manufacturing robots, and farming, to consumer applications around the home. In fact, the RRAM market is tipped to grow to a value of $957 million in 2027.
The technology will also make it easier to store and process data locally, which can enhance privacy.
Owen Metters, Investor, Deep Tech, Octopus Ventures: “Intrinsic underlines the potential of the UK semiconductor industry to develop radical new solutions for the next generation of devices. Memory technology has struggled to keep pace with processor innovation in the last decade, but Intrinsic’s technology has the potential to unlock currently inaccessible functionality in a wide range of applications. It will be hugely exciting to work with the Intrinsic team as they commercialise the technology and expand into new markets.”
The startup, which was founded in 2017 by Professor Tony Kenyon, Dr Adnan Mehonic and Dr Wing Ng, will use this funding to expand the team and commercialise the product.
Lee Thornton, Partner, Deeptech, IP Group: “By solving the memory bottleneck Intrinsic has achieved a major breakthrough for the use of non- volatile memory in single-chip computers. Being able to deliver orders of magnitude faster and cheaper memory with lower energy consumption will make it possible to add intelligent capabilities even at the edge. Solving this memory issue is fundamental to the evolution of such applications.”
David Grimm, Investment Director UCL Technology Fund: “Intrinsic is developing a great example of fundamental innovation with world-changing potential from UCL. The team now has the resources to prove the technology at cutting-edge node sizes across millions of devices. We’re very proud of this team and delighted to continue to back them!”