South African company developing world-first superconductive integrated circuit design tool

Stellenbosch University spin out company has secured $1.7m in funding

NioCAD, a firm of Stellenbosch engineers and scientists credited with the world’s first end-to-end design automation tool for building superconductive integrated circuits, has secured the second-round funding from South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).  This funding is intended for the commercialization of the product.

The company’s CERO, Retief Gerber says applications for the technology – current and emerging – are tremendously exciting.  “It has the potential to fast-track fields as diverse as supercomputing, telecoms and life-like 3D virtual reality with sub-TeraHertz processor core speeds functioning at low switching power.  Sensor and imaging applications will also benefit, as superconductive circuits make for ultra-sensitive sensors.”

NioCAD believes its integrated architecture is for all design needs, including schematic and cell-based design, circuit analysis and optimisation, as well as physical design.  The software provides for integrated schematic versus physical verification and design and electrical rule checking – most of which are firsts in superconductive design.  “The integration of physical and schematic design by way of a unifying data model is entirely new,” Gerber adds.

The company must now decide on distribution channels, produce user and training materials, establish support lines and devise licensing models. “The thing is to strike a balance,” says Gerber.  “Pricing must be designed to stimulate demand, not saturate or alienate the market.  We have to be responsive to customer support requirements.”

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