CREWE, England ( ChipWire) -- Startup Anadyne Microelectronics Ltd. here plans to revive a field-programmable analog device technology originally developed by the now-defunct Pilkington Microelectronics Ltd. and sold to Motorola Inc. in 1997.
Motorola has taken a minority stake in Anadyne in return for intellectual-property rights and know-how. Anadyne received $5.1 million in initial funding from U.K. venture capital companies 3i and Quester. Its technology has been used in demonstrator chips made by silicon foundry Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd. in Singapore.
Pilkington in Northwich, England, transferred a fine-grained, SRAM-based digital FPGA technology to Motorola that surfaced briefly in 1997 in Motorola's MPA1000 reconfigurable-device family. At the time Motorola also planned to launch a Pilkington-developed field-programmable analog array with the further possibility of combination products based on a merger of the digital and analog cell arrays. However, Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector canceled all field-programmable products and plans in 1998.
It is the analog and mixed-signal technology that Anadyne intends to base its business on.
"I saw such a response from companies we approached that I asked Motorola if we could have the technology," said Ludwig Klingenbeck, sales and marketing director of Anadyne.
Anadyne's founders include Klingenbeck, Mike Kay, who is chief executive officer, and Ian Macbeth, the technical director, who worked at Pilkington prior to the Motorola acquisition.
Anadyne already has multiple offices in the United States and Europe. Kay will be based in Silicon Valley and Anadyne's software development team will be located in Phoenix.
Earlier attempts at field-programmable analog technology from IMP Inc. and Zetex plc met with mixed results. "That's because those earlier products fit a very narrow application space and were never quite right for a range of customers," Klingenbeck said. "In the analog space you need to be broadly applicable. We will have a much more generic, versatile and flexible architecture. In principle you can alter the digitally controlled analog characteristics on every clock cycle. That's a very powerful approach."
Klingenbeck said Anadyne would not simply respin Motorola's planned introductions but would create new, more powerful devices as a fabless chip company. He said the company would announce its first products in the second half.
"We will be a fabless chip vendor producing standard analog chips in a standard CMOS process," Klingenbeck said. "We want to be the Xilinx or Altera for the analog domain. We do not intend to be a design." Chartered is likely to remain a foundry source, he said.