Mobile

Quantance raises $12M to boost 4G data rates for mobile devices

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Quantance has raised $12 million in a fourth round of funding to supply tiny qBoost power amplifiers that boost the efficiency of mobile data transfers via smartphones and tablets.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company has raised the money to jumpstart production for its chips, which could double the speed of 4G data rates in mobile devices.

Investors include TD Fund, Granite Ventures, InterWest Partners, and DoCoMo Capital. The company has raised about $42 million to date.

Quantance has designed its Q845 qBoost ET Power Supply chip for major smartphone manufacturers in the LTE supply chain. With Quantance chips, mobile devices will have faster data rates and better battery lives. And the phones won’t burn hot in your hands. Besides doubling your data rate, the chips could lead to 20 percent longer battery life for your mobile device and a 10 percent reduction in surface temperature.

“The high traction our Q845 has gained with chipset and handset providers since mid-2012 is driving our plans to scale for mass market production,” said Vikas Vinayak, Quantance’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “So many big players have firm plans for deploying ET solutions that we expect ET to be ‘table stakes’ by the end of next year.”

The new chip is more efficient and smaller than rival power supplies and can deliver power to the rest of a phone in the right amount and do so at a very high speed.

Older power supplies are slow and haven’t kept up with the rapidly evolving smartphone. Some can generate voltage efficiently, while others do it quickly. But Quantance designed its power supplies to deliver power quickly and efficiently at the same time.

Most power supply companies simply ratchet up the power that they deliver to a smartphone application. That’s because the app will crash if it gets too little power. Designers have to design for overkill on power or risk having constant failures. The result is that the device will run out of power far too quickly.

The Q845 supports ET operation up to 20 megahertz LTE, providing the response time equivalent of a 400 megahertz switcher for ET systems. As a result, the Q845 is more than 100 times faster than any other mobile ET power supply solution available today.

Quantance said the technology could be used in 4G LTE smartphones, tablets, or MiFi devices.

These devices are currently frustratingly slow because the power-related constraints are stopping them from transferring data at the maximum theoretical rates. Device makers actually have to throttle their designs because of the power limits.

The Q845 uses a patented combination of switching and linear power supplies inside a single chip to efficiently deliver power. The design is so radically different that the company has had to work on the technology for six years. Its third version of the chip is the one that will likely be commercially successful.

Quantance founders include Vanayak and Serge Drogi, chief technology officer. The company will also use the money raised for more product innovations and enhancements. Quantance says the Q845 has been selected for use in several baseband/transceiver reference designs (the key data transfer technology in smartphones and tablets).

“Quantance is well positioned to win a large portion of this explosive ET market and will be at the leading edge of ET innovations as it is adopted in LTE platforms starting later this year,” said Eric Zimits, managing director at Granite Ventures, in a statement. “But what excites me most about the company is the potential that Quantance’s fast power supply technology has in a number of markets, such as enabling 4G [power amplifiers].”

The company was founded in 2006 and has 26 employees. Rivals include Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, RFMD, R2, and Nujira.