Silicon South West Promoting the region's micoelectronics clusterWed, 18 Sep 2013 13:29:58 +0000en-UShourly1 Radio Technology receives significant order from the US, 08 Aug 2013 15:35:28 +0000Silicon South West Bath-based technology company has received an order from a North American customer valued at $670,000 (approximately £400,000).

Software Radio Technology, which produces marine focused technologies, products and systems, said that this was one of those instances where an order stands out.

The order was for Class A and Class B OEM (original equipment manufacturer) products, which are set to now be shipped over in August and September.

"General core demand for AIS (automatic identification system) continues to grow annually and this is reflected in the increasing frequency with which we receive orders from existing customers," said Simon Tucker, chief executive officer of Software Radio Technology.

"From time to time these orders are of a substantial individual value as in this case. Our supply chain strategy of holding a mixture of long lead time components, modules and finished stock enables us to react quickly to such orders and meet our customers’ requirements."

Since 1987, Software Radio Technology has been a leading force in maritime domain information technologies, helping advance radio communication technologies.

In its recent annual report, dated March 31st, the company reported that it had realised £10 million in revenues for 2012, profit before tax was £1.2 million and was debt free with cash of £1.5 million.

Smart Antenna Technologies secures new funding, 07 Aug 2013 15:08:08 +0000Silicon South West Antenna Technologies has announced that they have secured a substantial investment from Mercia Fund Management (MFM).

The company, which is a member of the University of Bath Innovation Centre and a winner of the Discovering Start Ups competition in 2012, welcomed the decision, adding that MFM's expertise would be a useful addition to their plans for growth.

Smart Antenna Technologies, which has designed, manufactured and patented state-of-the-art antenna technology, said that it will use the funding to help shape its future strategy.

It is committed to delivering appropriate solutions to challenges faced by the global cellular handset market.

"Currently [handset manufacturers] are unable to achieve physically the desired antenna performance in a size that fits a cellular handset package at an acceptable volume cost," the company has explained.

"Current implementations from the leading handset manufacturers employ typically six antennas. The highly compact SAT technology replaces all existing antennas—DVB-H, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GSM, GPS, 3G multi-bands and 3.9/4G LTE—with just one."

MFM is a venture capital fund manager that presently has approximately £18 under active management.

Blu Wireless Technology Closes £2m Funding Round For 60GHz Wireless IP, 07 Aug 2013 07:58:29 +0000Silicon South West 60GHz wireless specialist Blu Wireless has closed a £2 million funding round. This will allow the company to drive further growth, doubling in size to 30 staff, and complete the development of its HYDRA baseband IP offering for 802.11ad next generation WiFi (WiGig CERTIFIED) and 4G mobile network backhaul applications.

The funding round was led by Qi3 Accelerator, who represented a syndicate of over £1m of London Business Angels private investors, including Wren Capital. A further £600,000 was invested by the Angel Co-Fund, several additional investors made up the remainder.

Blu Wireless’s baseband technology uses a flexible parallel processing architecture to efficiently support the complex modulation schemes required for emerging multi-gigabit wireless communication standards. The IP is currently optimised for chipsets used in both advanced WiFi and 4G small cell deployments, and can be simply scaled to support the anticipated future standards as they move to 20Gbps and beyond.

The firm is already working with several of the world’s leading semiconductor and system companies in these markets.

The IP will be sold under license agreement to chipset manufacturers that compete in, or want to enter, markets that exploit the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band.

Blu Wireless’s CEO, Henry Nurser commented: “With the completion of this funding round, we will be executing our plan to become the leading supplier of baseband system IP to manufacturers in the 60GHz sector.

“Qi3 Accelerator did a great job to pull this large syndicate together and the Angel Co-Fund’s involvement was also vital to the transaction.”

Tim de Vere Green and Nathan Hill of Qi3 Accelerator led the transaction, alongside Rajat Malhotra of Wren Capital. Tim de Vere Green will join the Blu Wireless board.

Tim de Vere Green said: “This is a very exciting sector and we are convinced Blu Wireless will be a global leader in 60GHz technology. We believe 60GHz applications in both consumer WiGig and telecoms backhaul are set for rapid growth, and Blu Wireless is already working with several of the world’s leading semiconductor companies in these markets. The thorough due diligence we have conducted has given us great confidence in the team’s technical and management capabilities, as well as their deep knowledge of their target markets.”

Imagination Technologies pairs with Hardkernel for development board, 06 Aug 2013 16:36:32 +0000Silicon South West leading multimedia, processor, communications and cloud technologies company has teamed up with a specialist hardware supplier to produce a low-cost development board.

Imagination Technologies and Hardkernel have been busy working on a high-performance ODROID-XU development board, delivering endless possibilities for developers.

For example, the following applications programming interfaces can be accessed: full OpenGL ES 2.0 for Android and Linux and OpenGL 2.1 for Linux; a selection of near OpenGL ES 3.0 features courtesy of a series of OpenGL ES 2.0 extensions for Android and Linux; and OpenCL EP 1.1 for Linux.

"The ODROID-XU is an excellent example of how Imagination, together with key ecosystem partners including Hardkernel, is delivering on our strategic vision to enable the PowerVR developer ecosystem with all of the resources they require to achieve market leadership," said Says Amit Rohatgi, vice president of segment marketing at Imagination Technologies.

"This is part of our continued effort to grow the vibrant PowerVR developer community through programs with silicon partners, tools and middleware vendors, and OEM and hardware vendors."

Mr Rohatgi added that the company had been impressed with Hardkernel’s work in integration, whereby it used Imagination Technologies PowerVR Series5XT GPU. As a result of this, he feels that Hardkernel is in a very strong position to produce cost-effective and high-quality development boards.

Justin Lee, chief executive officer of Hardkernel commented that the company was excited to be able to offer developers an open platform that allows them to be inventive.

"We are very excited to offer developers access to a mainstream, open platform that enables them to write advanced applications which can take full advantage of the low-power, high-performance graphics and GPU compute available on Imagination’s PowerVR SGX544MP3 GPU," he said.

Blu Wireless Technology raises funds for chip design, 05 Aug 2013 15:59:48 +0000Silicon South West Bristol-based silicon IP company has raised $3.1 million (approximately £2 million) to further enhance its operations.

Blu Wireless Technology, which specialises in developing low cost 60GHz WiGig technology, announced that they will be doubling their staff to 30, put in place structures to deliver growth and conclude the development of its HYDRA baseband IP offering for 802.11ad next generation WiFi (WiGig CERTIFIED) and 4G mobile network backhaul applications.

The funding came from a number of sources, principally from Qi3 Accelerator, whose syndicate of London Business Angel private investors generated $1.5 million (£1 million). Other investment came from the Angel Co-Fund.

Henry Nurser, chief executive officer of Blu Wireless, said that with the completion of this round of funding, the company will now be looking to deliver its plan to become the leading supplier of baseband system IP to manufacturers in the 60GHz sector.

"Qi3 Accelerator did a great job to pull this large syndicate together and the Angel Co-Fund’s involvement was also vital to the transaction," he added.

The company's baseband technology employs a lithe analogous processing architecture to economically support the multifaceted modulation schemes necessary for rising multi-gigabitwireless communication standards.

At present, the IP is optimised for chipsets – in WiFi and 4G small cell deployments – and can easily be scaled to assist the likely upcoming standards when they move to 20Gbps.

Tim de Vere Green of Qi3 Accelerator, who led the transaction along with his colleague Nathan Hill and Rajat Malhotra of Wren Capital, described Blu Wireless as having all the potential in the world to rise to the top of its sector.

"We believe 60GHz applications in both consumer WiGig and telecoms backhaul are set for rapid growth, and Blu Wireless is already working with several of the world’s leading semiconductor companies in these markets," he expanded.

"The thorough due diligence we have conducted has given us great confidence in the team’s technical and management capabilities, as well as their deep knowledge of their target markets."

UK semiconductor company opens Romanian engineering centre, 31 Jul 2013 16:11:36 +0000Silicon South West Group has announced that one of its divisions, Frontier Silicon, has opened a major software engineering centre in Romania.

The company's development facility in Timisoara will be able to benefit from the nearby Technical University, with the city renowned as a leading destination for this form of electronics.

A formal opening session has been held and featured speeches from the mayor of Timisoara Robu Nicolae, chief executive of the Toumaz Group Anthony Sethill and general manager of Frontier Silicon's Romanian Office Barry Jones.

More than 50 attendees and representatives were present, including students from the Technical and Medical Universities and the Municipal City Hospital.

Among the work which will be carried out at the centre will be the development of software for Frontier's consumer audio solutions and Toumaz's wireless healthcare products.

"To complement our other operations in Europe and China, we have chosen Timisoara as the location for an elite team who will develop complex software stacks for our connectivity IC platforms. Our aim is to build a world class innovation centre – ‘engineered in Timisoara’ will become a hallmark of quality," said Mr Sethill.

Leading up the team will be Mr Jones, who has over 25 years experience of international and commercial technology management in companies, including the likes of Sharp, Philips and Motorola.

Among the innovations to be worked on in the Romanian city is the SensiumVitals, which is an ultra-low-power wireless system which will monitor the vital signs of general care patients.

It does this through lightweight, wearable, single-patient-use patches which will track heart and respiration rates, along with body temperature every two minutes. This data is then communicated over through the air via a wireless bridge to nurse stations or other web-enabled devices, providing healthcare experts with early detection of deterioration in a patient.

It is then hoped that faster interventions can be carried out and lives will be saved.

IDC: Semiconductor revenue to rise by 6.9% in 2013, 30 Jul 2013 17:03:28 +0000Silicon South West sustained demand for smartphones across the globe is keeping projected semiconductor revenue levels high, according to one new report which has stated that they are set to grow across the rest of 2013 and into 2014.

With sales of the Samsung Galaxy S4 still going strong and Apple expected to release at least one iPhone in the second half of the year, the International Data Corporation (IDC) said that revenue levels for semiconductors is set to improve by 6.9 per cent across 2013 as a whole to sit at $320 billion (£210 billion) across the world.

This is an improvement to its last predictions, posted in May, when the company said that the revenues would grow by just 3.5 per cent this year, showing that the summer months have presented strength in the market.

The updated forecast also said that 2014 should see further growth of 2.9 per cent year-on-year to sit at $329 billion, while this is predicted to rise to $366 billion globally by the year 2017.

IDC research manager Nina Turner, said: "Semiconductors for smartphones will see healthy revenue growth as demand for increased speeds and additional features continue to drive high-end smartphone demand in developed countries and low-cost smartphones in developing countries.

"Lower cost smartphones in developing countries will make up an increasing portion of the mix and moderate future mobile wireless communication semiconductor growth."

This positivity comes in spite of perceived negative news with regards to the demand for computer semiconductors, with this said to have fallen, according to the IDC data.

However, the IDC believes that strong memory growth and higher average selling prices in DRAM and NAND will keep the market performing well, rising by two per cent for the consumer sector and 15 per cent in the computing market this year in terms of semiconductor revenue. Meanwhile, an increase in demand for more apps and technology in vehicles will be likely to see semiconductor revenue in the automotive industry jump by 5.3 per cent.

Imagination launches new DOKs, 29 Jul 2013 14:43:30 +0000Silicon South West Design Optimisation Kits (DOKs) will soon be available from Imagination Technologies, the company has announced in a statement.

They will provide customers with the flexibility to optimise for power, performance and area (PPA) in graphics processing units (GPUs), central processing units (CPUs) and other core families.

These DOKs are built using optimised reference design flows, libraries tuned from partners, characterisation data and documentation. The first one to be made available this year is for those working with Imagination's PowerVR Series 6 'Rogue' GPUs. It will significantly accelerate time-to-market and reduce power and area through a mixture of core IP and physical IP which has been co-developed by Imagination and Synopsys.

This DOK will make use of Synopsys' DesignWare high performance core design kit, with customers being able to reduce dynamic power by 25 per cent and area savings by ten per cent. Furthermore, there will also be up to 30 per cent improvement in implementation turnaround time through a tuned design flow.

Tony King-Smith, executive vice-president of marketing at Imagination, said: "To achieve success in an increasingly competitive environment, customers need to create designs that are fully PPA optimised using the libraries and design flows they want, to the exact criteria they have chosen for market success. With Imagination’s DOKs, users will be able to achieve that while substantially reducing design times to achieve great results."

His words were backed up by vice-president of marketing for IP and systems at Synopsys John Koeter, who added: "Synopsys’ new DesignWare HPC Design Kit enables the optimised implementation of a broad range of processor cores. Our close collaboration with Imagination over the years has encompassed both CPUs and GPUs and is achieving significant results."

Mr King-Smith went on to praise the relationship between Imagination and Synopsys in making this first DOK for PowerVR Series 6 GPUs, citing "strategic collaboration" as a great example of how customers are being helped to achieve the best possible results through using its IP with their preferred flows, memories and standard cell libraries.

IQE expects H1 performance “ahead of market expectations”, 25 Jul 2013 10:03:33 +0000Silicon South West supplier of advanced semiconductor wafer products IQE has made a preliminary announcement about its first-half performance for 2013, saying that it believes the figures will "be ahead of market expectations".

Estimates indicate that the net debt will fall below £39 million, with revenues across the six-month period reaching £63 million. If achieved, this will represent growth of 80 per cent compared to the first half of 2012.

However, the organisation forecasts even more substantial improvements in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation), anticipating a figure in excess of £10 million – 150 per cent more than that recorded in the same period last year.

IQE believes that acquisition and consequent successful integration of RFMD and Kopin Wireless will be main drivers behind impressive sales growth. Both of these expansions allowed the company to improve its market share.

Acquisition of RFMD's in-house MBE epitaxy manufacturing unit was announced in June 2012. The deal involved a seven-year wafer supply agreement, and IQE chief executive and president Dr Drew Nelson described it as "a clear win-win for both organisations".

Kopin Wireless, global manufacturer of heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) materials, was acquired for $75 million (£49 million) earlier this year, giving IQE the opportunity to better penetrate the Asian semiconductor market.

Growth of the wireless market as a whole has also had a positive impact on company performance, with widespread adoption of 4G and long-term evolution (LTE) smartphones and tablets cited as a main contributor. VisionGain forecasts that the global LTE base station market will be worth £6.37 billion by the end of 2013.

These latest technologies, as well as the newly-launched dual-band Wi-Fi, which operates on a higher bandwidth than previous connections, require the most advanced solutions which provide superior RF performance.

Dr Nelson said: "Compound semiconductors are widely acknowledged as the key enabling materials that will drive a wide range of next generation technologies from high performance data transmission and management, to highly energy efficient products, including solar energy, SSL and power semiconductors."

Lime Microsystems’ RF chip adopted in Nuand’s bladeRF, 24 Jul 2013 16:58:38 +0000Silicon South West Microsystems' field programmable RF transceiver IC the LMS6002D, which according to the manufacturer "remains the most flexible transceiver IC available in the market", has been adopted in Nuand's bladeRF – a Software Defined Radio (SDR) platform.

Development of the open source RF board was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. More than 500 backers raised $191,422 (£125,000) for the project – almost double the target – between January 29th and February 28th earlier this year, demonstrating that it is an in-demand solution.

It is the third open-source RF board to have been launched in 2013, Lime notes, with Myriad RF and Fairwaves also releasing these kinds of products. The organisation believes that this "marks the technology's move into the mainstream".

Chief executive Ebrahim Bushehri said: "The move towards simple-to-use open source RF platforms, such as this, is essential. The technology is currently niche and specialised, opening it to a large community of system developers means more innovation."

Lime's LMS6002D chip has been used in a host of wireless broadband consumer technologies, and has application in the likes of communications equipment, machine-to-machine technology and software-defined radio (SDR), a field rapidly evolving in light of digital advancements.

It will be integrated into the bladeRF alongside the latest USB 3.0 Superspeed interface (it is has backward USB 2.0 compatibility), which enables host processing, as well as an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA transceiver, that helps the product to meet demanding bandwidth requirements.

Nuand claims that its RF board will be able to capture 40 MHz of baseband bandwidth via the quadrature ADC/DACs. However, there are low pass filters within Lime's chip, which have a programmable range yielding a total bandwidth of 1.5 MHz to 28 MHz.

The unique combination allows the bladeRF to create networks over any mobile communications or frequency, including the latest 4G networks. This means it is of a professional standard, although the product is also suitable for hobbyists.