Mill Computing heads to FPGA demo, seeks funds

January 12, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
A collaborative initiative to develop a computing architecture that has been running since 2004 and was incorporated in 2014 as Mill Computing Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) is seeking funds and plans to implement its Mill processor architecture in an FPGA.

The company said that it has made progress with both patenting its inventions and developing a tool-chain to support to development of software for Mill processors.

The main distinguishing characteristic of the Mill processor architecture is that it does not include a conventional register set for the storing of operands. Instead it has a FIFO which acts as a "conveyor belt." Functional units can grab data from anywhere on the belt which provides an additional degree of freedom over conventional addressing. Mill is intended for general-purpose logic and as competitor to high performance x86 and ARM processors.

Mill has now had several patents granted with about 20 more pending.

In 2017 Mill plans to make its tool-chain public and host a cloud-based software development environment.

"Our next task is to get the Mill running in hardware, on an FPGA as a proof-of principle implementation," the company said in a newsletter. However, back in December 2013 what the initiative was called Out of the Box Computing it was also looking to produce an FPGA implementation. At that time Ivan Godard, then chief technology officer and acting CEO, said that it could take a year to 18 months to implement an FPGA version of the Mill architecture and another year to 18 months to produce an optimized SoC version.

To date the company has relied on what it calls "sweat-equity" from development engineers that have not been paid salaries. It has received investment from business angels through convertible notes to pay for patent work.

"We considered going out for our next funding round earlier but decided to wait until our technology was confirmed by issued patents and we had gotten further with the implementation. That time is now, and we are about to close the convertible round and start on another round," Mill said. "We will beat all bushes - strategic partner, VC, private equity, crowdfunding, even a public Regulation A offering -