And if their performance is so great, why do they compare themselves to an ARM 7 processor, an incredibly anemic chip?
Rapport, which raised $7 million last year and is based in Redwood City, Calif., licensed a computing design from researchers at Carnegie Mellon.
That approach has permitted Rapport to create a chip with 256 computing elements that can be configured on the fly to adapt to different software problems. A follow-on version of the chip will have more than 1,000 computing elements and will contain a version of I.B.M.’s Power PC microprocessor.
At a computing conference scheduled to begin in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Rapport will demonstrate the chip processing a stream of video images. While a standard industry microprocessor chip, the ARM 7, can process 3.3 images a second while consuming half a watt of power, the new Rapport chip will convert 30 frames a second while consuming only 100 milliwatts, about one-fifth the power.
Singer said the current chip can process at least 25 billion operations per second, about five to 10 times faster than current low-power chips. He said that would enable new kinds of gadgets, from a “suitcase supercomputer” to a handheld computer that can play high-definition videos.
The company has raised $10 million to date and is raising another $20 million. It has 20 employees. IBM is working with the start-up on the second chip and has invited Rapport to join the Power.org alliance of companies that support IBM’s PowerPC technology.