SuVolta Inc., a startup developing technology for the manufacture of low-power ICs, has raised $10.6 million in a corporate and venture funding. Fujitsu Semiconductor Ltd. – a company with which SuVolta is partnering – provided strategic investment and was joined by existing investors in the round, which brings the total raised by SuVolta to more than $70 million.
SuVolta said it will use the latest tranche of funding to accelerate the integration of its low-power chip technology into the design and fabrication of ICs for DRAM, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile computing applications.
Founded in 2005, SuVolta has developed a deeply-depleted transistor channel technology (DDC) based on the graded doping of planar bulk CMOS. As such the technique represents an alternative to FinFET CMOS and to fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) CMOS. The technique supports low voltage operation, one key to low power consumption and is being integrated with CMOS processes from 65nm down to 20nm.
As such the SuVolta technology may find use both as a node extender for conventional CMOS at mature nodes and as a competitor to FinFET technologies being introduced at 20nm and sub-20nm nodes. The DDC technology is applicable to logic, memory and to the system-chips (SoCs) used in mobile equipment.
In September 2013 Fujitsu announced it was in volume production of an image processor IC using DDC technology licensed from SuVolta. The MB86S22AA Milbeaut image processor IC, made in a 55nm manufacturing process, provides twice the performance and consumes 30 percent less power compared with competitors' products made using finer geometry processes, Fujitsu claimed at the time. SuVolta is thought to be working with a number of foundries on the integration of DDC on existing CMOS nodes.
"Fujitsu Semiconductor is committed to advancing the development of energy efficient products for the consumer and mobile markets," said Haruyoshi Yagi, corporate senior executive vice president at Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited, in a statement issued by SuVolta. "Our investment in SuVolta is a reflection of the excellent working relationship between the companies and our confidence in the value of DDC technology at a variety of process nodes." In 2012 and 2013 Fujitsu began and undertook a radical restructuring that has seen it make a number of semiconductor related disposals.
Bruce McWilliams, CEO of SuVolta, said: "With DDC technology now in volume production, we are seeing increased interest from leading foundries and semiconductor companies seeking a competitive advantage through ultra-low-power optimization."
Existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), August Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Northgate Capital and DAG Ventures also participated in the funding round.
SuVolta was also tipped by Electronics 360 as one of ten startups worth paying close attention to in 2014.
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