CEO Talk: Karel Masařík

July 30, 2018, anysilicon

This interview was held with Karel Masařík, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Codasip, Ltd.



Tell me a bit about your background. How did you first get started with your company?


Codasip was born a decade ago out of my PhD work at the Technical University of Brno. I earned an internship at a German automotive company that was ahead of its time in the development of display camera mirror replacement technology. They were trying to solve a difficult problem that needed a customized compute solution. The internship led to paid customers and Codasip was created within the TU Brno incubation program.


Tell me more about Codasip.


Codasip has been around since 2014. The company is a provider of both processor development and design tools, and a licensor of implementations of RISC-V cores. We use our own tools to create a broad portfolio of processors. We are headquartered in Brno, Czech Republic, and we have an office in Silicon Valley and soon also in China.


RISC-V (pronounced “risk-five”) is an open processor instruction set architecture (ISA) that can be freely used for any purpose, permitting anyone to design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software. While not the first open ISA, it is significant because it is designed to be useful in both high-performance computing and low-power embedded applications. It also has a growing software ecosystem driven by a community of users. The architecture originated in 2010 at the University of California, Berkeley, but many contributors are volunteers and private industry engineers.


What problems did you see that needed to be fixed? What is your approach to solving them?


We recognized the commercial potential of RISC-V early on. It was evident that the industry wanted more choices in processor IP, and that what was needed was high-quality, fully verified, and professionally supported cores if RISC-V was ever going to successfully make it out of academia. It is a bit like Linux, in that it was not taken seriously in the IT world until companies like Red Hat provided the OS in physical media with documentation and technical support.


How has the role and offering of Codasip changed during the recent years?


We started out as an EDA company, promoting our core technology to companies wanting to create their own proprietary processor technology. However, that is a relatively small market, with few processor geniuses in the world who want to roll their own IP. But since we were processor guys, we created and licensed our own RISC architecture before eventually making a strategic shift to embrace the best that RISC-V has to offer.


So today, Codasip aims to have the most comprehensive portfolio of RISC-V processor IP in the industry. The Codasip Studio tools allow us to continually bring new cores to market in a timely fashion, giving us a unique competitive advantage.


We simplify the process of tailoring a processor solution by putting the power of our technology into the hands of customers, allowing them to build their own unique RISC-V processor that is just right for their application.


Which market segment seems promising to you? Why?


We are very excited about the use of our technology by customers in machine-learning applications like inference engines, in offload, and in smart sensor and IoT networking. There are many companies doing innovative things in these areas and it makes our jobs pretty exciting.


Who is a typical customer of Codasip?


Our customers are primarily fabless semiconductor companies or systems companies that design their own chips for internal consumption. They are looking for ways to differentiate, and our tools allow them to build processors that are 100% unique to them. We help them create their own IP.


Are you currently hiring? What type of jobs?


Definitely! We are always looking for talented engineers in areas like software, compiler, and RTL verification specialists.


Where can one find more information?


Visit our website at www.codasip.com, or learn more about the RISC-V technology and community at www.riscv.org.


What is your preferred lunch-discussion topic?


When not discussing work, we like to talk about ice hockey and which pubs in Brno have the best pilsner beer!


How do you spend your time outside working hours?


I have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter who keeps me busy and away from my laptop when I’m at home.


Check out Codasip’s profile page on AnySilicon by clicking here.


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