Artimi Announces Funding

By Jeff Goldman

July 15, 2004

The UWB chip designer, which sits on both sides of the standards fence but will launch with a single-band product, has enough money now to make a go of it.

The fabless semiconductor company Artimi has announced that it closed a $14 million Series A funding round, led by Index Ventures, Accel Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners, and Oak Investment Partners. Artimi, which develops ultrawideband chips, has its corporate headquarters in Burlingame, Calif., and its development headquarters in Cambridge, England.

According to Richard Dellabarca, the company's CFO, the funding will help with both personnel and infrastructure. "The funding enables us to build out the engineering team, the sales and marketing team, and also senior management," Dellabarca says. "It also enables us to build the business infrastructure to service customers with volume production."

The company is currently planning to release initial samples and evaluation kits in 2005. "It'll be a single chip product: the radio, the baseband, the MAC, and the components will all be on a single chip," says Tom Cooper, Artimi's Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "That will initially be in limited quantities, of course, because it's really a sampling product."

Artimi then hopes to offer higher quantities of products later in 2005. At first, those products will be proprietary, though Cooper says the company does expect to migrate to interoperable solutions. "It's a question of how the markets react and what the timing of the need is, how quickly the standards actually formulate--and then, how long our money lasts," he says.

In the meantime, Cooper says, Artimi is doing its best to remain a neutral company in the current UWB standards fight. "We are a member of the DS-UWB Forum, which is the single-band group supported by Motorola Freescale, and we are also a member of the MultiBand OFDM Alliance, which is headed up by Intel and TI and a couple of others," he says.

Artimi's first products will be in the single-band arena. "We chose to go with single-band first just because we see that there's still a lot of things unsettled on the multiband side," Cooper says. "The standard isn't fully set, the linkage between it and wireless USB is now pretty tight, and the standard for WUSB isn't out yet, so we think there are a lot of reasons to hold off."

In March of this year, Artimi announced a successful demonstration of an end-to-end UWB system, which Cooper says was a crucial step for the company. "A core group of us were all at Virata prior to this, and we learned there that building systems, really understanding how to build modules and how to think about cost and performance, is really critical to having a successful solution for your customers," he says.

As a result, Cooper says Artimi's approach is not just to make semiconductors but to build systems. "In terms of transport streaming, content encryption, content management, rights management, I think you'll see us do things in those areas that a lot of the other folks won't think about until after they're in the business for a while," he says. "We're out there already, talking up, figuring out, and in fact developing products that will support those kinds of actions."

According to Hermann Hauser of Amadeus Capital Partners, it's that kind of practical focus that makes the company compelling. "Artimi's UWB chips will make it possible to easily interconnect flat panel displays, DVD, DVR and other multimedia devices," he says. "There are many applications for this technology, and long experience of investing in semiconductor businesses leads me to believe that Artimi has a good chance of becoming a leader in the UWB field."

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