LONDON Cognovo Ltd. (Melbourn, England), a 2009 startup focused on developing software-defined modems for 4G communications, has benefited from a disposal at processor IP licensor ARM Holdings plc that turned into an equity and technology investment.
Cognovo was founded in May 2009 by the four founders of TTPCom, a developer of protocol stacks for 2G and 3G mobile communications that rose to prominence in the 1990s. The four executives Gordon Aspin, Mark Collins, Richard Fry and Tony Milbourn formed TTPCom in 1987 and the company was sold to Motorola Inc. in June 2006 for $192 million.
In November 2009, shortly after ARM (Cambridge, England) said it would close its DSP development operation in Heverlee, Belgium, Cognovo took on approximately half ARM's Belgian contigent, according to a local report. In addition, ARM provided the vector signal processing IP developed there to form the hardware component for Cognovo's software defined modem, in return for an equity stake.
Cognovo argues that future mobile communications terminal will have to support multiple wireless technologies and standards including both new and legacy standards such as LTE, HSPA+, EDGE, GPRS, GSM, TD-SCDMA, CDMA2000, IS-95, Bluetooth, WiFi, WiMax, GPS. As a result reconfigurable architectures are becoming mandatory, Cognovo argues.
Cognovo indicated at launch in May 2009 that it was looking to have discussions with developers of flexible baseband processing engines which could receive a port of its software-defined modem technology.
"We decided to build a business around a component we call the software-defined modem. Our search for the processor technology for this led us to ARM who were addressing this opportunity from the silicon perspective we were approaching from the software and tools side. We agreed jointly that the best way to bring our visions together was under one roof and in October 2009 ARM transferred its vector signal processor technology and the core engineering team to Cognovo in return for an equity stake," the company states on its website.
The move approximately doubled the size of Cognovo and gave it bases on both sides of the North Sea. The percentage or financial equivalent size of ARM's stake in Cognovo has not been disclosed.
ARM acquired its Belgian office when it bought part of Adelante Technologies in 2003. The main technology asset that ARM acquired from Adelante was the A/RT system-level design tool, which enabled the creation of optimized hardware accelerators for system-on-chip designs. Under ARM the design group was responsible for developing the Optimode configurable-DSP core which was licensed out to Broadcom, Thomson and a few other companies.