Qorvo takes strategic stake in MEMS vendor Cavendish

August 27, 2015 //By Peter Clarke
RF MEMS switch vendor Cavendish Kinetics Ltd. (San Jose, Calif.) has raised $36 million in a Series-F round of financing that includes a $25 million stake taken by RF component company Qorvo Inc. through its subsidiary TriQuint Inc.

The deal with Qorvo and TriQuint includes the terms under which Cavendish has granted TriQuint the exclusive right, but not the obligation, to acquire Cavendish with an option period lasting until June 30, 2017 (see Qorvo 10-Q form) or until 60 days after a certain undisclosed product enters pre-production, which ever is sooner.

Qorvo Inc. was formed by the merger of two wireless semiconductor companies – RF Micro Devices Inc. (Greensboro, NC) and TriQuint Inc. (Hillsboro, Or.) – which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Cavendish Kinetics said the latest tranche of funding would be used to accelerate the development of its next generation RF components. The latest round brings the amount raise by the 21-year-old startup to more than $68 million.

Cavendish designs micron-scale physical switches that can provide better isolation and better RF transmission characteristics than conventional solid-state switches. Such switching has become beneficial as the complexity of mobile phone radio front-ends has increased with the necessity to serve multiple standards in multiple bands.

The next generation of RF components adds a range of RF MEMS switches to its growing portfolio of industry leading RF MEMS tuners, the company said. Together the new components will enable a broader range of radio front-end applications, including the tuning of antennas, filters and power amplifiers as well as low loss switching of the RF signal path.

"There is a critical need for low loss RF switching as OEMs design radios for 4G and 5G capability, and commercializing our ultra-low loss RF MEMS switch to meet this need is a major focus for Cavendish, now that our first generation RF MEMS tuners have fully ramped and are shipping commercially," said Paul Dal Santo, CEO of Cavendish Kinetics, in a statement. "Our RF MEMS switches will deliver a 10x improved 'figure of merit' compared to what today's SOI [silicon-on-insulator] switches can achieve, transforming the way LTE radios are designed.”

Samples of Cavendish's new generation of RF MEMS components will be available in the first quarter of 2016, and ramp into volume production in the second half of 2016, the company said.

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