Alarm:clock is a daily news site that evaluates privately-held technology startups in the areas of hardware, software, the Internet, and wireless communications. One industry overview and one company profile by alarm:clocks editors come to Technology Review every Wednesday by special arrangement.
Power to the Processor
Ageia’s new microprocessor boosts the physical realism of PC-based games.
HQ: Mountain View, CA
Management: Manju Hegde is co-founder, chairman, and CEO. Before, he was co-founder and chief technology officer of Celox Networks, which built an Internet-protocol service switch, and he was also chief technology officer at MinMax Technologies, a fabless semiconductor manufacturer. Curtis Davis, previously the co-founder and CEO of Celox, is Ageia’s co-founder, president, and chief operating officer.
Investors: In September 2005, the company closed a $27 million financing round. Ageia has raised more than $38 million overall with help from Granite Global Ventures and Hercules Technology Growth Capital. Previous investors included Apex Venture Partners, BA Venture Partners, CID Ventures, HIG Ventures, and VentureTech Alliance.
Business Model: The company is a fabless semiconductor maker – meaning it designs processors and outsources their construction – with a focus on the PC gaming market. Its main product is a “physics processing unit,” PhysX, which allows game developers to simulate hair, soft bodies, fluid motion, and collisions more realistically. According to some estimates, Ageia’s processor can animate as many as 40,000 independently moving bodies on today’s high-end CPUs.
Competitors: None at present, but the company might see some in the future from ATI or Nvidia.
Dirt: The five founders of Ageia, the wunderkinder of the gaming world, say they wanted to create a product that could simulate the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation and convince every PC gamer to look for a PhysX chip in their next desktop or laptop. They appear to be well on their way. Still, there is some skepticism that gamers will fork over additional dollars for yet another graphics processor.