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Chip startup Efficient Computer raises $16 million led by Eclipse

By Max A. Cherney and Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - Chip startup Efficient Computer said on Thursday it had raised $16 million in a seed funding round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Eclipse to help fund work on its low-power chip designs.

Pittsburgh-based Efficient developed a new design, or architecture, for its chips that focuses on producing processors that use the least possible amount of energy. Called Fabric, the architecture was developed by Efficient's founding team over seven years at Carnegie Mellon University.

"This new architecture allows us to target software in a more efficient way," CEO Brandon Lucia said in an interview with Reuters. "It's a more efficient way of executing programs."

Efficient has built a test chip called Monza and plans to use the funding help with research and development, and go-to-market to begin to sell chips.

The company will market the chips to customers in industries such as health devices, civil infrastructure monitoring, satellites, defense and security. Devices running on chips that use a tiny amount of power will last longer in the field without the need for replacement power.

Chip giants such as Intel and Qualcomm already make chips for those markets. Arm produces a competitive architecture.

Beyond the hardware, Efficient has produced a set of tools that allows software developers to easily transform, use and optimize computer code for use on its processors.

"There's a lot of innovative software (development) that they're doing but they're also able to leverage a lot of the work that has been done in the ecosystem already through open source development projects," Eclipse Partner Greg Reichow said.

(Reporting by Max A. Cherney and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Jamie Freed)