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UltraSoC Technologies: A Pioneer in Debugging Technology


As technology moves forward, our main goals are to reduce the required energy consumption, save up on all extra tech costs and reduce the space taken by large systems. For that reason, today, we have SoC, better known as “System on a Chip.”

Basically, these small chips have a whole electronic system integrated into them. Depending on the system, an SoC can perform various functions. However, you can’t just place it and leave it as is – these chips need constant monitoring and self-analytics to be functionally safe.

This is where UltraSoC Technologies helps! Andrew Hopkins, Karl Heeks, and Klaus McDonald-Maier, all internationally recognized experts in Systems-on Chip technology, decided to help high-tech companies solve their issues by developing SoCs.

Standing out among the crowd was not easy, but these 3 experts managed to elevate UltraSoC Technologies to great heights. Let’s see their story and how they made their dream come true.

Meet the Founders

Ever since a young age, Andrew aspired to be a leading computer architect and reach the levels of highly experienced and widely known entrepreneurs. So he set off to work and, in 2003, graduated from the University of Kent in the field of Computer System Engineering. Two years later, Andrew got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Essex.

During both times while he studied, Andrew worked as a Senior Research Associate and Senior Researcher in the schools. At the University of Kent, he did research on advanced debugging technology for SoCs, and later at the University of Essex, he upgraded on the same research plus surprised post-doctoral researchers.

Karl Heeks didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the digital realm at first. Instead, he studied Chemistry at the University of Leeds, where he got his bachelor’s degree in 1985. The same year, he applied to the University of Southampton and studied for his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics up to 1989. However, with time, his interest shifted, and he gained a new perspective on technology.

The last piece of the puzzle is Klaus McDonald-Maier, who devoted his time to science, attending the University of Jena and Ulm University one after the other. In between, Klaus also got his master’s degree from CPE Lyon.

Much like the other two co-founders, he began his journey as a researcher for the University of Jena. There he led significant research endeavors in the area of embedded systems, computer architecture, and Systems-on-Chip, and their application in robotics and intelligent systems.

The First Steps

Building up to where they currently are was not easy for any of the three founders. Andrew had always been described as a dedicated and determined technology innovator and strategist. He had 2 years of research before establishing UltraSoC Technologies.

On the other hand, Karl changed a few work positions to reach the point where he is today. Namely, he started as a manager in GEC Marconi in 1989 and 5 years later moved to Cambridge Display Technology Ltd., where he stayed for 8 years. The last stop for him before opening UltraSoc Technology was Millitron Ltd.

And when it comes to Klaus, he always steered in the teaching waters. Right after his years as a researcher, he took up a job as a systems architect at Infineon Technologies, but after one year, he turned back to education.

In 2001, he became a lecturer at the University of Kent, where he stayed for 4 years. Right after, he became a professor at the University of Essex. In the meantime, he was a visiting professor at ESIGELEC for 6 years. He later returned to the University of Kent, where he became a visiting professor and even took up a visiting research affiliate job in the JPL (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

While developing UltraSoC Technologies, Klaus also founded another company, Metrarc. He’s the CEO and is responsible for all aspects of the company, including strategy and growth.

All this running around through different jobs led them to create something that could help the world in the current digital development. So, they put their minds together, and that is when UltraSoC Technologies came to be!

Raising to the Top

UltraSoC Technologies was founded in 2005 as a spin-out of the Universities of Kent and Essex. In the beginning, the company was funded with $2 million by EPSRC, the UK’s research councils at the time, and other government-funded grants.

It started by developing a debugging technology for embedded systems and designing and marketing UltraDebug™ – a debug support platform that is highly flexible for SoCs. This product was a pioneer in the debugging technology for the embedded systems that are part of products we use daily, like cars and mobile phones.

And slowly, it grew. In 2015, UltraSoC Technologies partnered with Tortuga Pacific, a company that helped bring strategic credentials and impeccable sales in key global markets, including North America and Japan.

In 2016, UltraSoC Technologies improved their SoC with the availability of the Universal Streaming Communicator (USC), which is used to intelligently monitor any on-chip activity and distinguish the critical information, making development more efficient. In the same year, Andes Technology started using UltraSoC’s chips in the AndesCore range of RISC-V processors.

Starting in 2019, the company expanded to the European and Indian markets and appointed Redtree Solutions as its technical sales representative in Europe.

Battling Obstacles

The road to greatness is never easy; these three co-founders know that best. Karl has stated that during their rise, there have been some great challenges that they had to face.

As for all beginners, UltraSoc Technologies’ first obstacle was acquiring funds. When the company was started, people were still doubtful of the need for such creations. This also entailed building the right team that could propel the company forward.

But the toughest challenge in Karl’s eyes was finding customers and convincing them that their product awas worth the investment. Not all were prepared to risk incorporating their SoCs into some extremely valuable chips.

Bringing in the Cash

In 7 rounds, funded by 11 investors, UltraSoC Technologies has raised a total of $21.3 million. Their latest funding was from a Grant Round on July 19, 2019.

The Seed Round in 2009 brought this company £400,000; ever since the investments have kept growing. In 2010, there was significant funding (Series A) from Octopus Ventures, which gave £2 million.

Octopus Ventures was the lead investor even in Series B, with $2.3 million. The FSE Group funded Series C, and Indaco Venture Partners contributed to Series D with £5 million. Series E had 7 investors in total, out of which Seraphim Space was the lead one, giving an additional $5 million.

The Acquisition

In 2020, Siemens signed an agreement to acquire UltraSoC Technologies Ltd. and integrate UltraSoC’s technology into the Xcelerator portfolio (a digital business platform) as part of Mentor’s Tessent™ software product suite.

The acquisition was set with the idea to help semiconductor industry customers solve problems like hardware bugs, functional safety, and malicious attacks, including manufacturing defects.

The Future of UltraSoc Technologies

Thanks to Siemens and UltraSoc Technologies' merger, the world is looking toward a huge development in the tech realm.

Before the acquisition, the company was headquartered in Munich, Germany, with 300 000 employees in South America, China, Germany, the Middle East, and the USA. Now, as part of Siemens, they are headquartered in Wilsonville, Oregon working as part of a team of over 10,000 employees.

The future plans of this company are now aligned with its acquisitors. Nonetheless, that doesn't change the fact that UltraSoC Technologies is not following its initial idea – build a product that would help everyone easily integrate into the new digital era.