Black Sand Technologies, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in advanced power amplifier (PA) technology for wireless applications, has announced that it has produced the world's first 3G CMOS RF PA. Black Sand's proprietary CMOS PA architecture offers a breakthrough in combined performance, cost, battery life, and reliability for mobile devices such as mobile phones and datacards. The company also announced that it has received US$10 million in its second round of funding. The round was led by Northbridge Venture Partners and joined by Austin Ventures, bringing the total investment in the company to US$18.2 million. Black Sand will use the funding to bring its power amplifiers into mass production and accelerate development of additional products.
Black Sand's RF PA products are targeted at mobile phones and other 3G wireless devices, such as datacards and netbooks. Mobile phones and wireless products today use power amplifiers based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) semiconductor technology. Replacing GaAs with CMOS silicon technology improves manufacturing yield, performance, cost, battery life, and call quality.
Over time CMOS has replaced GaAs technology in many other applications from audio chips to DVD decoders. However, CMOS does not lend itself easily to use in power amplifiers, so a revolutionary architecture was required. "By leveraging our breakthrough PA architecture, Black Sand, as the first company to deliver 3G PAs in CMOS, is ready to capitalize on the historic shift from GaAs to CMOS, and benefit from the explosion in demand for new 3G devices appearing on the market today," said John Diehl, CEO of Black Sand Technologies.
"The RF front end of mobile phones is continuing to grow in complexity and with the development of linear, 3G CMOS PA technology, enabling advances such as integrated digital control circuits, Black Sand is in a unique position to profit from this technological shift as the market moves from 2G to 3G," added Brian Modoff, senior wireless equipment analyst at Deutsche Bank.
"We were impressed to see that Black Sand delivered working samples of their new PA architecture much sooner than expected," said Basil Horangic, partner at Northbridge Venture Partners. "This is a very competitive market and Black Sand's linear PA architecture puts them out in front. Their unique offering will provide the basis for a broad portfolio of products from 2G to 4G." Krishna Srinivasan, partner at Austin Ventures, added, "Since inception this team has executed in hitting milestones and developing new, world-class IP, and we are delighted to continue our support for the company as they enter a new phase of growth."
"Black Sand is extremely pleased with this up-round of financing that we've received. Our company is now well positioned to take these products to market by providing a new level of integrated cost and performance to our customers," concluded Diehl.