Swiss chip designer raises $56m for USB4

Swiss chip designer raises $56m for USB4

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Swiss startup Kandou Bus has raised $56m for a key chip in next generation USB4 connections.

The third funding round brings the total backing to just under $100m. The round includes three Swiss groups: Swisscom Ventures, Forestay Capital and Fayerweather Capital Partners.

Kandou has started developed of a serial/deserial (SerDes) retiming chip for USB4, codenamed Matterhorn. The chip will use its proprietary coding scheme called Chord to provide two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables and up to 40 Gbit/s operation over high speed certified cables.

The company was created in 2011 as a spinoff from Swiss research lab EPFL and has over 300 patents. So far it has been licensing the technology but is now designing consumer products.

The USB4 specification was launched at the end of August, backed by the USB Implementers Forum, Microsoft, Intel, IBM and HP. It aims to support two 4K UHD resolution screens with a 60 Hz refresh rate and charge laptop batteries quickly over a USB-C connector.

“In laboratory tests, our initial prototypes designed for USB-C plugs proved to be extremely fast while consuming very little power,” said Amin Shokrollahi, Kandou’s founder and CEO and is also a professor at EPFL.

The first product is the Matterhorn retimer chip which is at the prototype stage. This allows a USB4 connection to support slower USB3.2 links over the same USB-C connector. “Our experience building the world’s leading low power SerDes designs gives us a unique perspective on solving the challenges of next generation USB,” he added. “With engineering samples back in our validation labs, initial results are excellent and we look forward to delivering a re-timer solution that demonstrates; low active power and support for multiple protocols including USB4.”

Engineering samples will be available in November 2019 with production shipments in second half of 2020.

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