Arm today announced the launch of Arm Flexible Access for Startups, an extension of its Flexible Access program.
Arm normally charges a range of licensing fees to access its technology, including some that must be paid for potentially several years of design and development time before a company ever sees its first physical chip.
The new initiative offers early-stage silicon startups zero-cost access to a range of Arm’s IP, along with global support and training resources, enabling them to start on their journey to commercial silicon and business scale.
License fees will not kick in until the company gets to the point of commercial payout, according to Phil Burr, director for business transformation at Arm.
“In today’s challenging business landscape, enabling innovation is critical – now more than ever, startups with brilliant ideas need the fastest, most trusted route to success and scale,” said Dipti Vachani, senior vice president and general manager, Automotive and IoT Line of Business, Arm. “Arm Flexible Access for Startups offers new silicon entrants a faster, more cost-efficient path to working prototypes, resulting in strengthened investor confidence for future funding.”
Early-stage silicon startups can now access a wide range of Arm IP at no cost, allowing them to experiment, design and prototype with various Arm solutions throughout the product development cycle. Arm defines “early-stage” as startups with up to $5m in funding. Startups meeting these criteria will have access to a broad portfolio of Arm-based processors, including IP from the Arm Cortex-A, -R and -M processor families, select Arm Mali GPUs, ISPs, and other foundational SoC building blocks. Startups will also be able to supplement their in-house skills and experience with access to Arm’s ecosystem of silicon designers, software developers, support, training and tools.
The company reserved some of its newest processor technology. This is leading edge IP that requires the most technologically advanced and costly foundry capabilities, which is likely to make it less attractive for most early-stage startups anyway.
Arm said the program will carry some costs to Arm, but the company views it as a long-term investment to ensure smaller chip companies can become familiar with its technology.
As part of the introduction of Arm Flexible Access for Startups, Arm also announced a strategic partnership with Silicon Catalyst, an incubator focused exclusively on helping startups accelerate silicon solutions. Silicon Catalyst members can now access Arm IP, EDA tools and prototype silicon for free, reducing costs at the critical stage of the business.
Launched last year, the Arm Flexible Access program enables partners to pay an annual fee for immediate access to a broad portfolio of technology. Arm says that its program has seen significant momentum, with more than 40 customers now registered, covering areas such as IoT, AI at the edge, autonomous vehicles and medical wearables.
A full list of the Arm IP available through Arm Flexible Access for Startups can be found here.
Arm also faces competition from RISC-V, an open-source chip technology with fewer licensing costs. The Flexible Access program might have a defensive component to it, as a means to stave off some of the competition from RISC-V.