Artimi CEO, Colin Macnab
Artimi is a fabless semiconductor company developing single chip Ultra Wideband (UWB) technologies. Wireless USB and Bluetooth over UWB are two separate protocols that both use the WiMedia standard for UWB that has been adopted as the global standard. Artimi's silicon supports both standards running on the same IC.
Backgrounder:Wireless USB is driving the overall USB roadmap and will be used to replace today's wired USB connections for bulk data transfer between, for instance, cameras, PCs, printers and storage devices.
The next generation of Bluetooth, for which the specification is due out later this year, will incorporate UWB technology for data transfer in devices such as mobile phones. The company secured a $14 million Series A funding round in July 2004 and a subsequent $26.5 million Series B funding round in December 2006. Artimi investors include: Index Ventures, Accel Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners, Oak Investment Partners and Bank of Scotland Corporate. Artimi, founded in 2002, is headquartered in Santa Clara, California, with research and development in Cambridge and sales offices in Japan and Taiwan. 1.How soon can we expect to see the first Artimi powered device on the market? We anticipate that the first products based on our silicon will be available by 4Q 2007, although this is, of course, driven by our customers, the ODM and OEM players. The initial products will be wireless media servers, PCs and peripherals. Digital cameras, camcorders and portable media players will be on the market in 2008, with mobile handsets incorporating UWB available in the longer term. 2.What do you think will be the killer application for wireless USB that drives adoption? The main application will be bulk data transfer, moving files wirelessly, and almost instantly. This could be from a camera to a PC or printer, or between mobile phones for instance. Basically anywhere consumers had to plug in USB cables, they'll be able to use wireless USB as a replacement, and as well as being wireless it'll be faster. WUSB is very power efficient and will use very little energy to move large amounts of media; it takes only 30 seconds to transfer 1 Gbyte of data. This is critical in handheld devices where battery life is one of the most challenging specifications. 3. Where does Artimi currently stand relative to its competitors? Artimi is uniquely focused on bulk data transfer for consumer electronics and mobile handsets, whereas many of the competitors are focused on the PC market segment or the Video market segment, which requires a different product development and applications focus.
We are focused on the key factors that are crucial to the mobile consumer application, such as small form factor chips and very low power consumption. Artimi has taken a complete systems approach, which helps our customers get to market quicker with their consumer electronics devices. Additionally, we have just one piece of silicon that supports both Wireless USB and next-generation Bluetooth, which means our customers have maximum flexibility in their product design.
Finally, although countries around the world vary in the frequency bands they have allocated to UWB, our silicon supports all the allocated bands which means our customers can develop products that can be sold globally. 4. What does the future hold for UWB? UWB is forecast to be one of the biggest semiconductor markets in the world. Wireless USB and next-generation Bluetooth represent a whole new paradigm in communications.
The speed differential will be huge: speeds of up to 480Mbps are specified in today's standards, and this will increase to 1Gbps as the standards evolve further. In the future we see wireless USB, enabled by UWB, being as ubiquitous as wired USB is today, providing consumers with easy to use, high speed wireless data transfer. 5. What has been your biggest challenge to date and what is your single biggest challenge going forward? Our biggest challenge to date has been in building the company to where we are now: putting together the right team, financing the company, and developing the technology.
We feel we have achieved this. We have one of the best semiconductor teams in Europe, some of the leading VC investors in the world, and we've successfully developed a technology which is more than an order of magnitude more difficult than today's WiFi or Bluetooth semiconductors. Going forward, our biggest challenge will be executing on our business plan, growing the company to deliver volume production of our products. 6. What are your main objectives at 3GSM later this month? Our main objective is to show the mobile world our vision for next-generation Bluetooth over UWB. Visitors to our booth will be able to download images from their mobile phone to our computer, and then we'll move these files to another computer using next-generation Bluetooth over ultra-wideband, to show the huge increase in speed that can be achieved. 7. Can Artimi become as successful as CSR? CSR has been remarkable with regard to what the company has done for Cambridge and Europe as a whole in the wireless and semiconductor market spaces. Market forecasts for UWB are larger than for the current generation of Bluetooth, and so there's definitely scope for us to emulate CSR's success. We have senior management who have already succeeded in growing semiconductor companies from start-up to IPO, which provides us with further confidence in our abilities to succeed. 8. Will Artimi make it to an IPO or will it be snapped up before then? We are building a company for success in the long term: We see an opportunity to define the future of ultra simple connectivity. All the members of our senior management team have taken companies from start-up to IPO, like Virata and Atheros, and the majority of our staff members have worked in companies that have achieved the same.
We have world-leading investors who have invested in companies such as Virata and CSR, and are keen to build billion dollar companies. The market is large enough to support at least one, if not two, publicly listed UWB companies. 9. What are your headline business development targets for 2007? For 2007, our goal is to achieve the successful launch of our A-150 silicon, with Tier One customers in Japan, Taiwan, China and Korea, and to put volume production in place.
We are also building out a customer support infrastructure to support the availability of volume product. Additionally, we are continuing to build relationships with our business partners around the world. 10. As computing becomes ever more mobile and distributed do you think Cambridge chip companies can mount a serious challenge to the big boys in the US and the Far East? Cambridge is recognised as a wireless centre of excellence: Since 2000 there have been three, billion dollar fabless semiconductor companies globally, two of which - CSR and Virata - have come from Cambridge. Cambridge takes circa 25 per cent of all VC investment in the UK, and circa 15 per cent of all VC investment money in Europe.
Clearly our manufacturing is outsourced, but from a development perspective we have the infrastructure, the skill set and the financing in place to grow a global company and compete anywhere in the world.