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Seagate goes back to ASICs, slurps upstart's brains in return for cash

Spinning rust merchants eye up flashy future

Seagate has invested in a bespoke chip designer that can whack new interfaces to the hard disk giant's products.

The silicon slinger is privately-held eASIC, which was tapped up for its "expertise in fast time-to-market, low-cost and low-power" custom chip knowhow, we're told.

The draw for Seagate seems to be the ability to add new interfaces to its hybrid flash-disk and flash products at a faster clip; interfaces such as NVMe and SoP (SCSI over PCIe).

Ronnie Vasishta, eASIC CEO and president, was bullish about the deal: "Using our eASIC Nextreme-3 28nm single via configuration technology will help Seagate to bring storage innovation at a pace not yet seen in this industry.”

What's “single via configuration” technology? eASIC says:

eASIC Nextreme devices use a patented breakthrough concept combining configurable Look-up Table (LUT) cells with customised single-via interconnect. The interconnect is customised quickly and inexpensively with an alternative lithography approach called Direct-Write eBeam.

Direct-Write eBeam flexibility enables different patterns to be easily printed directly onto the same wafer. The resulting rapid turnaround time, make eASIC Nextreme NEW ASICs an ideal solution for both for prototyping, low-volume production. When a customer design goes to high volume, a single via mask can be created for customisation.

In February Violin Memory selected eASIC Nextreme-2T technology to build flash controllers for its latest 6000 Series enterprise-grade flash memory arrays, replacing existing FPGA devices.

Kevin Rowett, Violin's engineering VP, said; "We opted to collaborate with eASIC for reducing cost and power consumption because their Nextreme-2T NEW ASICs enabled us to quickly migrate from FPGAs, and inexpensively ramp our solutions to high volume production.” ®

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