A fabless RISC-V processor startup VyperCore Ltd., based in Bristol, England, has raised £4 million (about US$5 million) in seed funding for its plans to develop novel processor technology. The company, founded by CTO Ed Nutting and executive chair Russell Haggar, aims to build on Nutting's research into memory allocation management and its effect on processor performance and security, which he conducted at Bristol University. The funding round was provided by Octopus Ventures, Foresight WAE Technology, Science Creates Ventures, British Growth Fund, and Silicon Roundabout Ventures. The funds will be used to establish design centers in Cambridge and Bristol and to develop the first generation of accelerated compute silicon.

Haggar explained that modern programming languages, such as Python, Java, and Javascript, create various types of loads on processor architectures, such as greater data movement and garbage collection burdens. Existing general-purpose processors have simply scaled with Moore's Law or moved into application-specific areas such as graphics and AI processing. By focusing on memory allocation management, Nutting's research has shown that technology can improve processor throughput by up to 10 times for existing compute-intensive workloads. VyperCore's technology also addresses memory security vulnerabilities at the gate level in silicon. About 70% of processor hacks are based on memory overflow and memory leak security breaches, which VyperCore's approach to memory management can prevent.

The company plans to develop a RISC-V processor that could initially be sold on a card into the server market as a secure application accelerator, although it could ultimately pursue an intellectual property licensing business model. VyperCore is working with the RISC-V architecture because it is open, allowing VyperCore's technology to be deeply embedded in the processor. The company is now recruiting engineers to work on an FPGA implementation and compiler technology for the next year. Professor David May, founder of Bristol chip company Xmos and known for his work as lead architect on the transputer, is an advisor to VyperCore as part of a four-strong technical advisory board.