2013년 4월 22일 월요일

10 top startups to watch in 2013

Peter Clarke

12/21/2012 2:30 PM EST

Here's our list of ten startups focused on a wide range of electronics technologies that are worth keeping an eye on in 2013.
Processors, memory, manufacturing processes, chip architecture, EDA, MEMS, RF, touch screens, servers and the Internet of Things are markets where startups can still make a difference.

What follows are ten rising companies worth tracking in 2013.

Nantero Inc. (Woburn, Mass.) was founded in 2001 and has been working on the use of carbon nanotubes in non-volatile memory applications since then. Having made some noise about a trench-based device structure in 2006 things went quiet again until 2012.  

The company has changed its device to an even more scalable in-via structure and has announced additional funding of $10 million led by a couple of strategic partners. In addition microelectronics research center IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) announced a joint development program to make CNT non-volatile memories with critical dimensions of less than 20-nm, and senior IMEC executives expressed the hope that the memory could be deployed as a replacement for DRAM.

If this technology is going to fly it should be able to demonstrate more progress in 2013 and perhaps we will find out who are the strategic partners?


Cross-section of Nantero's carbon-nanotube variable-resistence memory structure. The structure is thought to be scalable to 15-nm wide elements and even down to 5-nm.

Related stories:

Partners back nanotube memory for production push

IMEC backs carbon nanotube memories


SuVolta Inc. (Los Gatos, Calif.) was founded as DSM Solutions Inc. in 2005 and originally planned to come to market with a novel form of junction FET. The company went through a reappraisal of its chances and then emerged with CTO Scott Thompson on-board in 2011 touting a fully-depleted planar transistor structure that uses doping to recreate what is done by others with silicon-on-insulator wafers.

Indeed it appeared that PowerShrink transistors with their deeply depleted channel could provide n alternative to FinFET and FD-SOI manufacturing processes, but none of the leading-edge IDMs or foundries appeared to be biting.

That was until Ajit Manocha, CEO of Globalfoundries Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.) said his company was evaluating a third manufacturing process option – besides FinFET and FD-SOI. That option he called super-steep retrograde well (SSRW), which is basically another name for what SuVolta has been doing.

It is not clear whether Globalfoundries is working with SuVolta or independently of them. But either way it helps give SuVolta's technology some credibility and is a good reason to keep an eye on SuVolta in 2013.

SuVolta's PowerShrink transistor manufacturing process achieves FD-SOI-like benefits without requiring SOI wafers as the starting point. It achieves some FinFET benefits with needing to make and protect fins. But will the leading chip companies reject the technology because of NIH?


SuVolta's PowerShrink transistor is deeply-depleted

Related stories:

Globalfoundries mulls third manufacturing option

SuVolta reports 65nm parameter results at IEDM

Tela Innovations

Tela Innovations Inc. (Los Gatos, Calif.) was founded in 2005 and started by working with Qualcomm on computational lithography with a view to the extraction of multi mask information for the double patterning era.

Tela's technology is delivered as physical design representation applied to standard cell logic and embedded SRAM, analog and I/O that can result in area savings and reduced leakage current. The company offers gate-length trade-offs for power, performance and area within its libraries. Tela has also specialized in working with customers' IP development teams to get the technology into production.

In February 2009 Tela acquired Blaze DFM, which added PowerTrim to its technology as well as a relationship with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. which bore fruit in 2010.

The company has been fairly quiet since then but did say mid-2012 that it is ready with libraries for the 32/28-nm and 22/20-nm process nodes. The company's investors provide reasons to watch the company. They include: Intel Capital, Cadence Design Systems Inc., KT Venture Group LLC (the investment partner of KLA-Tencor Corp.) and Qualcomm Inc. The fact that the company appointed an intellectual property legal counsel in 2012 is another reason to be watchful.


Tela offers 28- , 20-nm and FinFET lithography optimized standard cell libraries.

Related stories:

TSMC, Tela trim logic die area by 15 percent

Tela Innovations acquires Blaze DFM

Layout optimization startup Tela buys Blaze DFM


Senseg Oy (Espoo, Finland), formed in 2006, has developed a touch interface technology that uses electrostatic field to create the illusion of surface texture and even the movement of keys beneath the fingers. The technology has the potential to provide haptic feedback for touch screens and particularly the on-screen keyboards that are part of the use of smartphones and tablet computers.

The company is backed by Ambient Sound Investments, the investment vehicle of the founders of Skype.

By modulating this attractive force on the fingers a variety of sensations can be generated, including textured surfaces, edges, vibrations and the technology produces tactile sensations with no mechanical vibration. The company appointed a Paul Costigan as CEO in June 2012 and so he should be showing some results from his stewardship of the company in 2013.


Use of electrostatics can turn a touch screen into a feel screen

Related stories:

Former Movidius exec joins haptic startup as CEO

Finnish interface developer gets Estonian VC investment


SiTime Corp.
(Sunnyvale, Calif.), founded in 2005, is a semiconductor company pioneering the use of MEMS timing products.

Earlier this year SiTime entered into a strategic partnership with Vectron International Inc. (Hudson, N.H.) and Knowles Electronics (Itasca Ill.), both owned by Dover Corp. of New York.  The formation of the partnership included a cash investment in SiTime by Vectron, which is a maker of quartz timing products, and by Knowles, which makes silicon membrane microphones. The size of the investment was not disclosed but when the competition starts investing in you, you are probably doing something right.

SiTime was also ranked as the fastest growing semiconductor company in North America by Deloitte in November 2012.


Silicon MEMS manufacturing brings timing control into the digital domain.

Related stories:

London Calling: MEMS the word

Rusnano draws MEMS firm to Russia


Wilocity Ltd. (Caesarea, Israel), founded in 2007, develops 60-GHz wireless chip sets for the notebook and peripheral markets that can provide data more than ten times faster than today’s wireless LAN solutions. There are numerous competitors but Wilocity appears to have first-mover advantage and announced a number of design wins and partnerships in 2012.

Wilocity's WiGig technology was selected to provide multigigabit wireless connectivity in a Dell Ultrabook featured at the launch of the Windows 8 operating system. Wilocity is also partnered with Marvell Technology Group Ltd. to bring forward tri-band Wi-Fi solutions enabled with 802.11ad for the computing, networking and consumer electronics segments.


Wilocity sits alongside Qualcomm-Atheros on a tri-band board that provides an Ultrabook WiGig solution for Dell Computers.

Related stories:

Four companies prep wave of 60 GHz chips

Wilocity signals next battle at 60-GHz

Cyclos Semiconductor

Cyclos Semiconductor Inc. (Berkeley, Calif.) founded in 2006, announced in 2012 that it was Advanced Micro Devices Inc. that had achieved the first commercial implementation of its resonant clock mesh technology.

It was AMD's Piledriver 64-bit core, which operates at up to and in excess of 4-GHz clock frequency, made using 32-nm bulk CMOS. It was reported to save 24 percent of the power consumption in the clock distribution while achieving previous clock-skew targets.

That leaves upside for the likes of Intel and ARM's partners if they adopt the technology and we would hope to see announcements in 2013.


Schematic diagram of resonant clock mesh technology.

Related stories:

AMD, not ARM, first to use startup's low-power clock IP

Resonant-clocked design tools target ARM core


Andreas Olofsson, CEO of 2008 startup Adapteva Inc. (Lexington, Mass.), has offered innovation in both processor architecture and in funding and business models. To begin with Olofsson managed to make use of multiproject wafer runs to keep costs so low that he was able to boast that he had reached processor IC product release with less than $2 million of total investment, while completing four generations of Adapteva's Epiphany multicore processor.

Then Olofsson went one better and used the Kickstarter crowd-source funding website to raise more than $750,000 for a project to build a personal supercomputer called Parallella for which building blocks would sell at $99. The computer module is based on a combination of Zynq SoCs from Xilinx and an Epiphany processor from Adapteva.

The $750,000 is set to fund a mask set but also has the virtue of seeding a developer community of nearly 5,000 potential customers and a lot of awareness. Of course, being innovative is no guarantee of success but we think these innovations merit keeping an eye on Adapteva in 2013.


Click on image to enlarge.

Adapteva has designed a clean-slate RISC processing engine based on the assumption that electronics is about to enter the manycore era. (Source: Adapteva)

Related stories: 

How Kickstarter created a community for Adapteva

Adapteva Kickstarts a $100 supercomputer

Adapteva ships OpenCL compiler for Epiphany

Adapteva close to sampling 28-nm, 64-core coprocessor


Neul Ltd. (Cambridge, England) was founded in 2010 to develop a wide-area wireless network technology dedicated to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT). The company has pioneered the development of the Weightless standard for networks that operate in the license-free television white space (TVWS) part of the spectrum. Neul's first product is a radio system specifically designed for TV white space that consists of a base station, battery-powered terminal device, antennas and a set of PC-based network management tools.

The founders are experienced in nurturing a startup company, many of them having been founders of Cambridge Silicon Radio in 1998 and in 2012 they got a boost from near neighbors ARM, which added its weight to the Weightless Special Interest Group.

We expect IoT and M2M to be red-hot in 2013 with both Intel and ARM making it an important part of their approach to the market and we also expect Neul to be making news in that sector.


Neulnet is the first radio system designed to work in the white spaces around TV broadcasts.

Related stories:

ARM joins group driving IoT specs

White space radio startup raises funds

Do machines dream of IoT?


Calxeda Inc. (Austin, Texas), a developer of ARM-based processors and software for low-power servers for data centers, has announced in 2012 that it raised an additional $55 million in equity funding. This puts the total raised by Calxeda over $100 million since the company was founded as Smooth-Stone in 2008.

Calxeda is already shipping the 32-bit EnergyCore processor and with ARM releasing details of 64-bit capable ARMv8 architecture it is expected that Calxeda will continue to make announcements that seek to address a fragmenting server market.

ARM is a significant investor in Calxeda along with: Austin Ventures, Vulcan Capital, Advanced Technology Investment Co. (the owner of Globalfoundries) Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners and Highland Capital Partners. So expect to Calxeda to be one of the surrogates through which the ARM versus Intel battle is played out in 2013.


Lowering power consumption is at the core of Calxeda's business.

Related stories:

Calxeda roadmap leads to 64-bit CPU in 2014

ARM server platform firm raises big money

Source: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4403877/10-tech-startups-to-watch-for-in-2013