SAN FRANCISCO—Power amplifier semiconductor vendor ACCO Semiconductor Inc. announced it has received $35 million in private funding, an increasing rarity in recent times.
ACCO, which is described as a French-American company that does its R&D at a center near Paris, said its latest funding round was led by French investment bank Bpifrance and included participation from several investors in France and the U.S. The funding will be used to support the launch of the company’s next-generation RF front-end CMOS chips and too provide working capital and R&D funds for future products, ACCO (Sunnyvale, Calif.) said.
Venture capital has largely shied away from the semiconductor industry in recent years, favoring less capital intensive investments that offer a faster payout found mostly in software. ACCO’s announcement marks one of the largest funding investments in chip firms in the past several years.
ACCO started as a French design services firm in 1994. By 2007 the firm had evolved into a chip company and secured $10 million in funding.
ACCO offers RF power amplifiers and switches for mobile phones based on bulk CMOS technology. The company claims that its CMOS products offer highly linear performance and can operate at high power without breakdown or degradation.
According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, the mobile power amplifier market is worth around $3.5 billion per year and growing.
“Designing the RF front-end of an LTE phone to support regional and global cellular bands has gotten extraordinarily difficult,” said Christopher Taylor, director of RF & wireless components at Strategy Analytics. “Starting with monolithic integration of the PAs and switches, bulk CMOS has great potential for simplifying the RF front-end and making it more space efficient and less costly—satisfying a critical need in the cellphone industry.”
”With this new round of funding, ACCO now has the resources to scale and obsolete expensive gallium arsenide (GaAs) power amplifiers used in today’s mobile phones,” said Rich Redelfs, ACCO’s chairman and a general partner at Foundation Capital, one of the firms that participated in the funding round.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry for EE Times.