EETimes' Silicon 60 Hot startups to watch

Date : 2012-10-05 Font size : A A A


Peter Clarke

10/4/2012 2:00 PM EDT

EE Times latest Silicon 60, our list of emerging startups, adds 17 innovators in version 14.0. (Our version 13.0 list, from April, is here. The newcomers include EDA, memory technology and processor companies along with sensors and haptics, wireless communications, power semiconductors, optoelectronics, audio and security.

Silicon 60 companies are selected based on a mix of criteria, including: technology, intended market, maturity, financial position, investment profile and executive leadership. Most importantly, they're emerging companies we believe are important to follow. The version 14.0 newcomers are highlighted in red.

ActLight SA (Lausanne, Switzerland), founded in 2010, by Serguei Okhonin, is a fabless semiconductor company developing designs and intellectual property for the combination of light and logic on silicon chips, including the use of CMOS for optical conversion for use in energy harvesting.


Adapteva Inc. (Lexington, Mass.), founded in 2008, Adapteva is a lean startup that has developed the Epiphany architecture of multicore processors. Adapteva, led by founder Anders Olofsson, is targeting defense and mobile consumer applications. The company claims to have reached break-even point with less than $2 million of investment.

Adesto Technologies Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) was founded by CEO Narbeh Derhacobian in 2006. The company is developing a nonvolatile memory based on programmable metallization cell technology licensed from Axon Technologies Corp., a spinoff of Arizona State University. The company is backed by Arch Venture Partners and Applied Ventures amongst other venture capital companies.

Amantys Ltd. (Cambridge, England) was established by former ARM executives in 2010 as a power electronics company. The company aims to use digital control to transform power electronics in medium- and high-voltage applications. The company is backed by Moonray Investors and ARM Holdings plc.

Ambiq Micro Inc. (Westlake Hills, Texas) founded in 2010, is a fabless chip company developing low power wireless processors based on ARM architecture and mixed-signal systems. Investors include Cisco Systems and ARM Holdings.

Andes Technology Corp. (Hsinchu, Taiwan), founded in 2005, is a developer and licensor of 32-bit processor technology and associated SoC platforms intended for a variety of embedded applications. The company’s U.S.-trained founders are aiming Andes cores at the borders of markets owned by established licensors such ARM, MIPS and Tensilica.

Ausdia Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) is a timing verification EDA company formed in 2006 which commenced product development in 2008. The company's TimeVision product is a timing constraints development tool intended to help with static timing analysis and sign-off for complex system-on-chip designs

Avalanche Technology Inc. (Fremont Calif.) is a attempting to bring to market a form of magnetic random access memory for memory and storage applications. Founded in 2006, the company received $30 million in venture capital funding in mid-2012.


Brite Semiconductor (Shanghai) Corp. (Shanghai, China) was founded in 2008 in Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park. It is an SoC and ASIC design company that pulls together intellectual property, foundry, test and packaging technologies to create custom silicon for its customers. Brite is backed by local foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and Open-Silicon Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.).


Calxeda Inc. (Austin, Texas) was founded in 2008 under the name Smooth-Stone and is developing server-on-a-chip processors based on multiple ARM processor cores. The company has received $48 million in investments from venture capital funds and strategic investors including ARM, ATIC and Texas Instruments.

Cognivue Corp. (Gatineau, Quebec) was spun off in 2009 from Korea's MtekVision to focus on so-called cognitive processing, that is, parallel processing engines optimized for tasks like image recognition and identification. CogniVue provides SoCs, software and IP to capture, analyze, and render video and images for smart cameras.

Cosmic Circuits Inc. (Bangalore, India), founded in 2005, is a licensor of analog and mixed-signal intellectual property circuits cores. The company provides a broad spectrum of IP ranging from power management, audio and voice to data converters, clocking circuits and analog front-end subsystems.

Cyclos Semiconductor Inc. (Berkeley, Calif.) was founded in 2006 as a spin-out from the University of Michigan. Based in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, Cyclos delivers resonant clock mesh semiconductor IP, design automation tools, and design consulting services for resonant clock mesh designs that can reduce the power consumption of clock circuits on ICs.


Efficient Power Conversion Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.) was founded in November 2007 by three engineers with experience in advanced power management devices. EPC’s CEO, Alex Lidow, is the co-inventor of the HEXFET power MOSFET and, in addition to holding positions in R&D, and manufacturing, was the CEO of International Rectifier for 12 years.

Eight19 Ltd. (Cambridge, England), founded in 2010 as a spinoff from Cambridge University, is focused on the device designs and printing processes that enable solar cells to be made roll-to-roll using solution-based organic chemistry and room-temperature printing techniques. The company is named for the length of time it takes light to travel from the sun to Earth: eight minutes and 19 seconds.

EnVerv Inc. (San Jose, Calif.), founded in 2009, is a fabless semiconductor company that offers power line communications ICs for metering and other control and monitoring applications.

EoSemi Ltd. (Congleton, England) was founded in 2005 and has developed an all-silicon replacement for quartz crystal timing references with the potential to save space and cost in a variety of applications.

EpiGaN NV (Hasselt, Belgium) is a spinoff formed to commercialize a decade of research into compound semiconductors at IMEC. The company, formed in 2010, supplies Group-III-nitride epitaxial materials for electronic device manufacturing.


GainSpan Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) is a developer of Wi-Fi sensor network technology. The company was an Intel incubator company before being spun out in 2006. It promotes a low power chip technology and integrated networking stack that allows Wi-Fi connections to be run from battery-powered systems and to target Internet of Things applications.

GigaDevice Semiconductor Inc. (Beijing) is a fabless vendor of NOR flash memory founded in 2005. GigaDevice produces a wide range of SPI Flash, NOR multichip package and parallel Flash memories across various densities for embedded, consumer electronics, and mobile communications applications.


Heliatek GmbH (Dresden, Germany) was formed in 2006 as a spinoff from the Universities of Dresden and Ulm. The company has developed organic solar cells from small molecule organic dyes that are chemically synthesized from hydrocarbons. The company has built an initial production facility in Dresden where it is using its technology to produce, flexible photovoltaic modules on a film substrate.


Imprint Energy Inc. (Alameda, Calif.)  was founded in 2010 to commercialize a flexible, rechargeable battery technology developed by the company’s founders at the University of California at Berkeley. Imprint Energy’s polymer electrolyte technology is said to enable scalable, print-based manufacturing of energy dense and ultra-thin batteries based on non-lithium, earth-abundant materials.

InfiniLED Ltd. (Cork, Ireland) is a spinout from the Tyndall National Institute that was founded in 2010 and is an innovation development project and portfolio company of ScienceWorks Ventures, the Irish innovation hub of ScienceWorks Ventures. The InfiniLED technology includes a parabolic structure etched on the back of the LED die to focus the light generated into a collimated beam.

Ingenic Semiconductor Co. Ltd. (Beijing), founded in 2005, is a provider of embedded CPUs. It has a low-power CPU architecture is called Xburst with a specialized pipeline engine. Ingenic chips have penetrated into the e-dictionary, personal media player, e-book and tablet computer markets. Ingenic is a licensee of MIPS Technology Inc.

Intrinsic-ID BV (Eindhoven, Netherlands) was founded in 2008 as a spin-out of Royal Philips Electronics. It develops hardware-intrinsic security technology – also referred to as Physical Unclonable Function technology. The technology derives secret keys based on the die-specific characteristics of the silicon implantation, which can be considered a silicon biometric or fingerprint. Security is enhanced as no key is stored and there is nothing revealed in the power-down state.

InVisage Technologies Inc. (Menlo Park, Calif.) is a fabless semiconductor company developing QuantumFilm, an imaging-sensing technology that it claims will replace silicon. Its first product enables the high-resolution images from handheld devices such as camera phones and PDAs. Founded in 2006, InVisage Technologies is venture funded by RockPort Capital, Charles River Ventures, InterWest Partners, and OnPoint Technologies.

Isorg SA (Grenoble, France), founded in 2010 as a spin-off from CEA-LITEN, converts plastic and glass surfaces into smart surfaces through the application of printed, organic optoelectronic sensors. The possibility of 3-D product integration allows the recognition of many shapes and form factors.The company name is a contraction of Image Sensor ORGanic.


Javelin Semiconductor Inc. (Austin, Texas), founded in 2007, develops mixed-signal CMOS ICs for wireless applications and has developed CMOS power amplifiers for 3G cellular communications.


Kalray SA (Orsay, France) is a startup company formed in 2008. Its technology combines parallel processor architecture called MPPA, for multipurpose processor array, and a parallel programming software development environment called MPPA AccessCore.


Leyden Energy Inc. (Fremont, Calif.), formerly known as Mobius Power Inc., was founded in 2007 to commercialize technology covered by a lithium-ion cell technology patent acquired from chemical giant Dupont. The seed technology served as the foundation for subsequent Leyden Energy research which has led to the company's Li-imide battery platform.


mCube Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) was founded in September 2009 and has developed a method for integrating MEMS motion sensors above electronic circuitry in a standard CMOS wafer fab. The mCube eMotion sensor platform combines single-chip motion sensors with tuned software algorithms.

Memoir Systems Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) is a 2009 startup offering embedded memory IP aimed at SoCs being designed for the networking and multicore processor markets. The company claims its "algorithmic" systems approach to embedded memory provision provides an order of magnitude increase in embedded memory performance.

MicroGen Systems Inc. (Ithaca, N.Y.) is developing products based on piezoelectric vibrational energy harvester technology. The MEMS components serve as micro-power sources to extend rechargeable battery lifetime. They also could eliminate the need for batteries in some applications. The company was founded by Robert Andosca in 2007.

MimoOn GmbH (Duisberg, Germany) was founded in 2006 and supplies a software implementation of the 3GPP LTE physical layer and protocol stack for infrastructure devices and terminals.

Movea SA (Grenoble, France) provides motion processing chips, software, embedded firmware and IP for consumer electronics. Formed in March 2007 as a spinout from the French research institute CEA-Leti, Movea acquired the Gyration consumer electronics brand in 2008


Neul. Ltd. (Cambridge, England), founded in 2010 by several original founders of Cambridge Silicon Radio, is working on radio network standards and terminals to exploit "white-space" spectrum between 400-800 MHz. In many countries this spectrum is used for analog and digital TV broadcasts. Neul is proposing an adaptive protocol that can be used for communications between IP-addressed objects in the Internet of Things.

Nitero Inc. (Austin, Texas) is a fabless chip company with offices in Austin ande  Melbourne, Australia, designing a 60-GHz 802.11ad Wi-Fi chip set. The company was spun out of the National ICT Australia in 2011.

Pelican Imaging Corp. (Mountain View, Calif.), founded in 2008, is commercializing computational array cameras for the mobile market. Pelican’s array camera, essentially replacing a single image sensor with an array of devices, addresses challenges posed by conventional camera design and small pixels.

Peraso Technologies Inc. (Toronto), founded in September 2008, is a fabless semiconductor company specializing in the development of chip sets for the 60-GHz marketplace. The unlicensed 60-GHz band has been available for several years, but only now is it possible to implement chips in low-cost SiGe BiCMOS and CMOS technologies. Peraso is aiming at the moblile segment of the consumer electronics market. It was founded by Ron Glibbery, who serves as president and CEO, and Brad Lynch, vice president of product development. Glibbery and Lynch previously co-founded Cogency Semiconductor in 1997.

Pixel Qi Corp. (San Bruno, Calif.) designs liquid crystal displays that can be manufactured on conventional fabrication machinery while reducing the need for a back light. The ability to turn off the backlight and switch to a monochrome reflective mode in ambient light allows for significant power saving. The company was formed in 2008 by Mary Lou Jepson, who previously served as CTO of the One Laptop Per Child project.

poLight AS (Horten, Norway) has developed optical MEMS-actuated autofocus lenses for use in camera phones and other consumer applications. The company, founded in 2006 and formerly known as Ignis Display AS, claims its TLens products are faster and use less energy to achieve focus than traditional voice-coil motor autofocus systems.


Quantance Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.), founded in December 2005, developed and patented several RF and DC power supply techniques as the basis of an instantaneous envelope-tracking technology known as qBoost. Designed specifically for mobile devices, qBoost provides power supply technology for envelope tracking for 3G and 4G power amplifiers, thereby reducing power consumption.

Quantenna Communications Inc. (Fremont, Calif.), founded in 2006, develops silicon for wireless networking. The company has developed 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip sets that include 4 by 4 MIMO capability and dynamic digital beam-forming.

RFaxis Inc. (Irvine, Calif.) was founded in January 2008. It uses a BiCMOS manufacturing process in conjunction with its own technology to create integrated RF front-end ICs for wireless standards including Bluetooth, WLAN, Zigbee, WiMax and mobile phone markets.

Rocketick Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) was founded in 2008 in Ramat Gan, Israel, by a group of experts on hardware-assisted-acceleration. It is a pioneer in GPU-based simulation acceleration for chip verification, which has received backing from Nvidia Corp. and Peregrine Ventures. Its first product, RocketSim, is said to solve functional verification bottlenecks by complementing simulators with GPU-based acceleration for highly complex designs.
Samplify Systems Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), founded in 2006, is a fabless mixed-signal semiconductor company with expertise compression that combines digital processing and high performance analog to create intelligent data converters and energy efficient data handling systems.

Sand 9 Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.), founded in 2007, offers MEMS devices that use piezoelectric actuation to meet phase noise and short-term stability requirements for wireless and wired applications. The resonator design, in conjunction with a low phase-noise oscillator, provides high performance timing, which can reduce packet loss and enhance network efficiency in communications applications. The company was backed by Intel Capital among others in a mid-2012 funding round.

Seeo Inc. (Hayward, Calif.) was founded in 2007 with an exclusive license for advanced technology from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the goal of creating high-energy rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Seeo was established with initial funding from Khosla Ventures.

Senseg Oy (Espoo, Finland) has developed technology that delivers tactile feedback sensations to a touchscreen user's fingertips. Founded in 2006, Senseg is backed by Ambient Sound Investments, the investment vehicle that helped launch Skype, among others.

Skorpios Technologies Inc. (Albuquerque, N.M.) was founded in 2009 and is focused on commercializing monolithically integrated active photonics into wafer-scale standard CMOS processes. Skorpios has received venture capital from Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Cottonwood Technology Fund and Sun Mountain Capital.

SolChip Ltd. (Haifa, Israel), founded in 2009, has developed intellectual property for integrated VLSI-photovoltaic devices powered by solar energy.

SoundChip SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) was founded in 2011 by a team of experts in electro-acoustics. They developed the High Definition Personal Audio reference model and are licensing intellectual property for use in electronic audio systems

Spin Transfer Technologies Inc. (Boston) was founded in 2007, to commercialize orthogonal spin transfer magnetoresistive random access memory, a technology originally discovered by Andrew Kent at New York University.

Stion Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) manufactures thin-film solar modules. Stion was founded in 2006 and is backed by venture capital investors, including Khosla Ventures, VentureTech Alliance, Lightspeed Venture Partners, General Catalyst Partners, and Braemar Energy Ventures. Stion also has a strategic partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

SuVolta Inc. (Los Gatos, Calif.), formed in 2005 under the name DSM Solutions Inc., develops and licenses CMOS-compatible semiconductor technologies used to reduce power consumption. Its PowerShrink technology is based on a deeply depleted channel transistor that is manufactured in epitaxially grown, doped silicon on the surface of a conventional bulk CMOS wafer.
Transphorm Inc. (Goleta, Calif.) was founded in 2007 to leverage the inherent power efficiency of gallium nitride for power applications. The company is taking a systems-level approach to create a process it intends to scale beyond 600-V breakdown voltage. It is developing manufacturing facility at its Goleta location and is backed by several venture capital firms including Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Vayavya Labs Pvt. Ltd. (Belgaum, India), founded in 2006, was named for the Sanskrit word for northwest. The ESL-oriented company provides tools to enhance the productivity of embedded system designers and programmers. Vayavya provides customers with ESL products and engineering services.

Vector Fabrics BV (Eindhoven, Netherlands) is developing tools for the design and implementation of multicore, multi-threaded applications and embedded systems. Founded in 2007 the company released its first product, vfAnalyst, in May 2010.
Wilocity Ltd. (Caesarea, Israel), founded in March 2007 by executive and engineers from Intel's Wi-Fi Centrino group, Wilocity is developing 60-GHz multi-gigabit wireless chip sets based on the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) specification, for both the mobile computing platform and peripheral markets.
XMOS Ltd. (Bristol, England) is a fabless semiconductor company founded by renowned computer scientist David May in 2006. The company has developed a range of event-driven processors. Designs are created in high-level languages, delivering hardware from a software-based design flow.

The Next Silicon 60
Our list of emerging startups, first published in April 2004, is updated regularly to reflect current technology and market conditions. To make way for newcomers, some companies have dropped off the list either because they have been acquired, moved on to an initial public offering of shares or have simply matured.
We welcome nominations of emerging startups for inclusion in a future iteration of the EE Times Silicon 60 list. Nominations should be supported by a short citation explaining why a company merits consideration on a future list. Send comments and nominations to Peter Clarke (