Cisco Backs Smart-Grid Modem Startup

25 March 2014

Fabless communications chip company EnVerv Inc. (San Jose, Calif.), a provider of a smart-metering system-chip for powerline communications, has raised $15.4 million in a series C round of finance that included Cisco Systems Inc.

This brings the total raised by the company, founded in 2009, to more than $33 million. Investors in the latest funding round included: Cassiopeia Capital Partners, Cisco, UMC Capital and previous investors Benchmark Capital, NEA and Walden International. The company raised $6 million in its Series A under the name Pervasive in June 2010 and $12 million in its Series B round in December 2011.

EnVerv develops chipsets for low- and medium-voltage powerline communication (PLC) for smart grid, monitoring and metering infrastructure. It has particular interest in supporting multiple PLC modem standards including G3-PLC, PRIME, S-FSK and its proprietary TurboPLC.

The EV8000 is soft-modem SoC that includes line drivers down to the network layer and covers CENELEC-A, FCC and ARIB frequency bands without any changes to the chip or module hardware. The soft-modem can be programmed to operate in ITU-T G.9903 G3-PLC or ITU-T G.9904 PRIME modes simply by downloading the appropriate firmware.

In December 2013 EnVerv announced it was working with IUSA, the largest manufacturer of utility meters in Mexico, providing the EV8000 for projects for metering infrastructure, revenue protection, prepaid metering and solar applications. At the time Eduardo Neri, director of engineering at IUSA, said: "We have chosen EnVerv's technology due to its superior performance under difficult network conditions and the fact that all necessary modem components including line driver, physical layer, media access control layer and 6LoWPAN network layer are all integrated in the EV8000 single-chip SoC."

Michael Raam, CEO of EnVerv, said the Series C money would be used to support production ramps, expand the customer base, and to continue the development of new product families in wired and wireless communications as well as metering market segments.

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