NEW YORK – Processor intellectual property licensor ARM Holdings plc and Moonray Investors have participated in a $7 million Series A round of funding in digital power control startup Amantys Ltd.
Moonray Investors, part of FIL Ltd. which trades as Fidelity International, has also purchased an external minority interest from IP Group plc. IP Group was involved with founders in a $1 million seed round in 2010.
Amantys (Cambridge, England) is a digital power control company that claims to have patented techniques that will enable efficient high frequency switching of power loads at voltages of 100s of volts up to 100-kV. Applications for the technology could include inverters for wind turbines and solar power, solid-state transformers, high-voltage dc transmission and fast charging of electric vehicles, according to Pete Magowan, co-founder and executive chairman of the company.
"From a system point-of-view we achieve a 50 percent reduction in conversion losses and further increasing from there," said Magowan.
The company was founded in 2010 by a number of former ARM executives and Patrick Palmer, who is on the teaching staff of the Engineering Department of Cambridge University.
Palmer serves as chief scientist of Amantys retaining his teaching responsibilities at the university. The other founders are Magowan, Bryn Parry who serves as CEO and Mark Snook, technical director. Magowan is a partner at Alta Berkeley Venture Partners and was previously a main board director at ARM Holdings plc.
One thrust of Palmer's academic work has been the use of active gate control for power devices such as insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) and power MOSFETs connected in series. The use of closed-loop voltage control can avoid the use of snubbers circuits allow for more compact and more efficient power devices.
Magowan stressed that Amantys technology can not only reduce losses in medium-to-high voltage systems but is a generic approach that will also apply to more exotic power devices made using silicon-carbide and gallium nitride.
Magowan declined to describe what product or service Amantys would supply as it goes to market, but said that the company was "looking to engage with system-level companies," as well as looking to partner with power semiconductor device companies.
"The high-calibre Amantys founding team is well-placed to deliver a disruptive solution to address the problem of efficiency losses. We believe power efficiency needs to be tackled across the power supply-chain and not just at the device level and ARM has been impressed with what the team has achieved," said Bruce Beckloff, ARM vice president of corporate business development, in a statement issued by Amantys.
Amantys said it will announced its first products the fourth quarter of 2011.
It seems like the play here would be to not create components but to create real designs. If you can get these levels of efficiency why wouldn't you go to market with just a component? The big profit will be in the end equipment...
I did ask Pete Magowan but he didn't want to give details.
I am thinking Amantys, like many startup companies, feel they can get more publicity by giving out key information in little chunks every two months or so while keeping a lot back.
But we could speculate that Patrick Palmer has come up with a load-balancing/feedback/feed forward mechanism/algorithm that allows heavy duty power devices to be operated in series without snubbers and maybe with a lot of other efficiency refinements. That algorithm could then be implemented in an ARM microcontroller (actually probably in something much simpler).
The Amantys go-to-market strategy would then be to produce power modules comprising IGBTs and programmed MCUs for inverter companies, while it talks about IP to power device makers with a view to in-package or monolithic integration.
Just a guess.
Very interesting but would be more exiting if they had elaborated how they accomplish this with ARM. This area could gain traction in the coming years since there is a huge gap between supply and demand and companies are stuggling to control the load distribution more efficiently.