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Monday, August 26, 2013

Fab(u)Less Semi-Conductors from Sarda: An interview with Sarda Technologies CEO and Co-Founder, Bob Conner



The first in a series of articles that highlight companies selected to demo at the CED Tech VentureConference 2013.

The mobile internet and its ceaseless demands are creating unprecedented opportunities. Durham-based Sarda Technologies is taking advantage of one of those opportunities – the need to manage voltage in high demand environments within small, mobile devices.

“The proliferation of ultrathin tablets and notebooks puts demands on the system, especially as their users are demanding desktop-like performance from these tiny devices,” said Bob Conner, CEO and co-founder of Sarda Technologies. “Older silicon-based systems often provide slow voltage regulators, and these create large power loss that limits system performance.  Sarda’s technology addresses the challenge of getting high-performance out of a small footprint device.”

But mobile devices are not the only market that’s wide open for Sarda. The data produced by those mobile devices impose enormous demands on infrastructure. Data centers are crammed with servers and routers sitting on racks, with constant need for increased performance.   “Increasing performance is what we do,” said Conner. “If you replace a garden hose with drip sprinkler system, you get a more efficient delivery of water. We do that with power –balance the peaks and valleys, and squeeze out better performance.”

The current market for this technology sits at about $12 billion each year. It’s dominated by silicon, but Sarda hopes to knock out that incumbent solution by delivering a power semiconductor that is 10x faster and a whole lot smaller.

Sarda targets companies like Lenovo, HP, or Dell, or Texas Instruments, Cisco, Qualcomm and IBM. They focus on solving problems in performance-critical systems, where Sarda’s new gallium arsenide approach can make crucial differences. The fact that there are many potential customers in North Carolina is only one of the reasons being here is good for the company.

“RTP is great for startups like ours,” Conner points out. “There’s a dynamic power electronics cluster here, in part because of NC State University’s rich history in pioneering power semiconductors. Most of the big companies in the space have design centers here, which results in NC as a center of world-class power/electrical technology talent.”

All of this is invisible to people outside the semiconductor industry, but within the industry, NC is definitely a hotbed. That’s one of the goals: to raise awareness of this resource, while engaging with potential investors, customers, and future employees. Come see why Sarda’s investors – like NC IDEA grant and Triquint Semiconductors – see this as a real up-and-coming company during the CED Tech Venture Conference 2013.

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