Semiconductor startup Ampere, launched in February by former Intel President Renee James, introduced its first product Tuesday — a microprocessor engineered for data centers.
Ampere hopes to bring competition into the data center market, a fast-growing segment currently dominated by Intel. Ampere is targeting regional data centers and systems developers with its first product, which is based on designs from British chip specialist ARM Holdings.
The startup’s headquarters are in Silicon Valley, but it has a large office in Northwest Portland and at other sites around the world. The company now employs nearly 400, compared with about 300 at its launch last winter.
Ampere is recruiting from Intel and other chip companies as it builds its business. James splits her time between the Bay Area and Portland, as she did when she was an Intel executive.
“It’s going to be really re-inventing semiconductors as a super fun place to work,” said James, Ampere’s chairwoman and chief executive. An informal survey of Ampere employees’ LinkedIn profiles indicates a high percentage of the company’s Portland staff, perhaps as much as 80 percent, came from Intel.
James, who left Intel in 2015, has been discussed as a potential replacement for former CEO Brian Krzanich. Krzanich quit in June after Intel uncovered what it described as “a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee” in violation of company policy.
Chip startups were common in Oregon during the 1970s and ’80s, many spun out of Tektronix or Intel. By the late ’90s, though, the sector’s center of gravity had shifted to Asia and few new semiconductor companies emerged.
There are new signs of life among chip startups, though, as young companies innovate around customizable ARM designs and in emerging fields such as artificial intelligence. Ampere emerged from the computer chip division of MACOM Technology Solutions, purchased last year by the private equity firm Carlyle Group.
Meanwhile, longtime Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices is making its own inroads in the data center market. It is introducing advanced new chips while Intel’s forthcoming 10-nanometer processors are years behind schedule.
While Intel continues to dominate the data center sector, James said inroads from AMD and upstarts like hers are good indicators for the industry.
“It’s always good to have multiple competitive products because it makes the market healthier,” she said.
This article provided by NewsEdge.