Our Innovation Analysts recently looked into emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups working on innovative solutions for the telecommunications sector. As there is a large number of startups working on a wide variety of solutions, we want to share our insights with you. This time, you will discover 5 promising semiconductor startups.
Heat Map: 5 Top Semiconductor Startups
Using our StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 1.379.000+ startups & scaleups globally, we looked at innovation in the field of communications technologies. For this research, we identified 194 relevant solutions and picked 5 to showcase below. These companies were chosen based on a data-driven startup scouting approach, taking into account factors such as location, founding year, and relevance of technology, among others. Depending on your specific criteria, the top picks might look entirely different.
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 5 startups & scaleups developing innovative semiconductor solutions. Moreover, the Heat Map reveals regions that observe a high startup activity and illustrates the geographic distribution of all 194 companies we analyzed for this specific topic.
Morse Micro – Long-Distance Communication Chips
Internet of things (IoT) devices increasingly require long-distance and high-capacity solutions that combine low-power capabilities with a small form factor. Semiconductor technology allows creating a single chip that accommodates both of these requirements. Advancements in IoT connectivity technologies help several industries improve the precision of their distributed activities. For example, long-distance chips are useful for monitoring agricultural field humidity and temperature to ensure optimal soil conditions.
Australian startup Morse Micro creates a chip based on Wi-Fi HaLow (802.11 ah) technology. The startup’s MM61xx family of system-on-chip (SoC) single-chip solutions have a transmission range of up to 1 km with data rates that exceed 40 Mbps. The chip’s dimensions of compact 6×6 mm and its low-power capabilities allow IoT devices to operate on a single coin cell battery over multiple years. Further, the use of the IEEE 802.11 ah standard for access points enables these chips to support more than 8000 devices simultaneously. Morse Micro allows customers to migrate their operational code to run on its host applications processor (HAP) which reduces the printed circuit board (PCB) size and costs for Wi-Fi HaLow applications.
Haawking – Open Standard-based Microprocessors
Reduced Instruction Set Computer – Five (RISC-V) is an open-source architecture standard for hardware. Companies are taking advantage of the open standard to develop solutions that provide interoperability and reduce the costs of developing hardware and software. Such open-source architecture standards also reduce the customers’ dependence on microprocessor manufacturers. For example, if a vendor stops producing or developing one of its stock-keeping units (SKUs), businesses that use RISC-V technology need not spend additional money to adopt a new platform. RISC-V architecture is also scalable for use across different devices.
Haawking is a Chinese startup developing high-performance RISC-V processor cores with independent IP rights. The startup offers two types of microprocessors, the Haawking-HX2000 for industrial control applications and Haawking-HX6000 for machine vision-enabled applications. The Haawking-HX2000 is a real-time control microprocessor integrating a high-performance core and application peripherals. This solution is widely used in motor drives and digital power supplies. Haawking-HX6000 finds applications across industries from enabling the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and scientific research to the automotive and cybersecurity industries.
Wiliot – Battery-Free Bluetooth Tags
IoT devices typically face challenges when it comes to storing energy. Traditional batteries are limited by their life-span and capacitors usually require low energy volumes and high self-discharge rates. This means semiconductor companies have to devise other ways to recharge IoT devices today. At the same time, advancements in IoT technologies result in devices that consume low power and recharge using radio waves. This battery-free energy harvesting technology is useful for both semiconductor manufacturers and IoT device users.
The US-based startup Wiliot is developing its battery-free Bluetooth technology-based chips for applications that include manufacturing, retail, material recycling, and asset distribution. The Wiliot Bluetooth Tags integrates radio waves-based energy harvesting hardware with a low-power chip and sensors. The startup’s battery-free technology works for an almost unlimited time and significantly lower costs when compared to traditional beacon devices. Further, a Bluetooth transmitter sends different information about the device state and environment. For example, the transmitter helps find lost items or track medication appliances by sensing when a product is in use.
SemiBlocks – Crystal Oscillators
Crystal oscillators are a type of electronic oscillators that use quartz crystals to generate stable frequency signals. There are different types of crystal oscillators, including Temperature-Compensated Crystal Oscillators (TCXO) and Oven-controlled Crystal Oscillators (OCXO). However, OCXO is almost 10 to 100 times more accurate than TCXO. This increase in accuracy is essential for generating high-frequency signals such as those used for 5G networks. However, OCXOs have several drawbacks, such as a larger package, higher costs, and significant energy consumption. Emerging semiconductor startups are working on solutions that tackle these challenges.
SemiBlocks is a Dutch startup developing SmartXtal – an oscillator that is capable of OCXO-level performance but is packaged in line with TCXO. This novel oscillator technology considerably reduces costs and size requirements for semiconductor manufacturers. SmartXtal incorporates a triple mode oscillator, a frequency measurement system and a microprocessor with memory, as well as digitally-controlled frequency synthesizers, that are all connected to a low-cost AT-Cut crystal resonator. Using its SmartXtal technology, SemiBlocks offers SBO8001AA, an accurate clock used as a reference in various timing functions. SBO8001AA comes as a system-in-package (SiP) with flash memory, a crystal resonator, and a multimode integrated circuit (IC).
Wupatec – Envelope Tracking (ET) Modulator
Radio Front End is an analog circuitry made using semiconductors. RFE is part of any radio receiver that prepares a signal for further transformation. Traditional RFE amplifiers are narrowband and typically energy-intensive. Nowadays, wideband amplifiers are used in most telecommunication technologies, including in 5G networks and WiFi-6. Startups are building semiconductors based on Gallium Nitride (GaN) in combination with complex energy-saving techniques. This results in high-power and high-frequency devices and improves application performance.
French startup Wupatec develops an envelope tracking modulator, coupled with mainstream GaN processes, to deliver a compact, high-performance, and cost-effective solution for 5G multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas. Further, the ET implementation enables broadband amplifiers, which help support inter-bands carrier aggregation, one of the cornerstones of 5G technology. Wupatec’s solution allows telecommunication equipment manufacturers to decrease the power consumption of wireless communication RFE and, in turn, enables high-speed communication in smaller packages with greater battery life.
What About The Other 189 Solutions?
While we believe data is key to creating insights it can be easy to be overwhelmed by it. Our ambition is to create a comprehensive overview and provide actionable innovation intelligence and enable you to achieve your goals faster. The 5 semiconductor startups in telecom showcased above are promising examples out of the 194 we analyzed for this article. To identify the most relevant solutions based on your specific criteria, get in touch.