The designer of processors MPPA French Kalray will put at the disposal of its customers the third generation of its chips. The start of production is scheduled for the second half. The opportunity of income on the economic model of this company after the CEA.

Despite the current context, the French Kalray keeps its deadlines. The designer of multi-core cpus and massively parallel was unveiled at the last ces in Las Vegas Coolidge, the third generation of chip with 80 cores, fully programmable. This platform operates interconnections to 600 Gb/s with support for interfaces, PCIe 4.0 and 200G Ethernet. “The third generation has fewer cores than the previous one [which had 256, editor’s Note], but the 80 cores are more powerful, and it is possible to connect as many chips as we want. And the processor is less expensive to the unit, ” says Eric Baissus, ceo of Kalray. Simple designer components, the latter shall delegate as much of the manufacturing of its chips, a giant taiwanese TSMC.

This is the 3rd generation of improvements in the exploitation of the technology MPPA (Massively Parallel Processor Array), developed by researchers from the CEA, which is from Kalray. The performance has been increased by 25 compared to the 2nd generation chip. The management capabilities of artificial intelligence have been extended, and the programming is facilitated internally or externally. The general availability of samples of Coolidge is still scheduled for April, before a volume production expected in the second half of 2020.

Many technology partnerships

At ces 2020, Kalray has completed a demonstration of the performance of its processor Coolidge with NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of components for the automobile industry, with which the French entered into a partnership a year ago. The company also works closely with the group and Wistron (owner of Acer) to design servers as well as with the Strasbourg 2CRSI for the deployment of HPC systems. In October, Kalray has also announced a partnership with the chinese Intron Technology, one of the leaders in the distribution of solutions of embedded electronics (in the car), in order to accelerate its development on this strategic market.

Since 2014, and the arrival of Eric Baissus at his direction, the activity of Kalray has been redesigned to generate more revenue and profits. At the time the activity of the start-up was still primarily focused on research and young shoots placed in receivership. Before you take the head, Eric Baissus had been asked to carry out an audit of the company. To develop the sales, while retaining the specificity of R&D of Kalray, two markets were selected. Data centers, for which Kalray product-card acceleration to support servers and storage arrays. And the board, to support the development of autonomous cars, very resource-intensive calculation. These technologies are still in testing and the markets addressed do not generate much revenue. “The first customers on-board does not want to leave in production only from 2023-2024,” said Mr. Baissus. This is why the leader’s primary focus is on the development of the activity of datacenter, to finance the work on the part onboard.

100 M€ of revenues in 2022 ?

Of the major players in the automotive, aviation and aerospace have decided to invest in the technology of Kalray. The Renault-Nissan alliance-Mitsubichi is coming to the capital of the start-up company, as for Saffron, and a joint venture of Airbus. All fund and co-develop products with the company. To stand out from the competition, Kalray update on the sale of its processor for use cases, very specific. The latter is, for example, adapted to handling video and video-surveillance, because the chips function like a DSP. The chips are also very efficient for the treatment of algorithms in finance, and risk analysis. If in France, Kalray is the only actor of the genre, if we consider that STMicroelectronics is much more conventional in the production of semi-conductors for industry, it must compete with Broadcom, Nvidia, Intel, or even the Xilinx on the cards market-type acceleration GPU, FPGA, and other. The battle is played here on the quality and performance of the components, but also on those of the compilers and development environments to exploit at best the available resources.

The end of 2019, 81 people working at Kalray. The majority at its headquarters grenoble, france. The others being divided between Sophia-Antipolis, Los Altos (California) and Japan. Today the company has a portfolio of approximately 50 clients. Revenues are still modest, because customers only use a few cards to develop their products and are just beginning to come into production. But in the last year, Kalray has generated 1,265 M€ turnover, an increase of 63% compared to 2018 (775 K€). These revenues are primarily from sales of the cards, of stations development and licensing, as well as contract evaluation, development, and services to customers in the phase of evaluation and qualification. With the arrival of its chip Coolidge next semester, the objectives of Kalray particularly ambitious with an expected turnover of 100 M€ in 2022 (made in nearly 90% on the party datacenter). This year, the designer of chips would like to sign his first big contract with an actor of the automobile.