Startup Kandou Secures $92.3M in Series C Funding

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Funding will help Kandou bring first silicon of its 'Ferrari for retimers', as the founder calls it...

Kandou, a fabless startup based in Switzerland, has announced it has closed a $92.3 million series C funding round. The company is focused on USB-C retimers with USB4 support, as well as signaling technology and SerDes intellectual property (IP).

The money will be used to bring Kandou’s first silicon — known as Matterhorn, a USB-C multiprotocol retimer solution with support for USB4 — to market for consumer and networking applications in electronic devices. Additionally, the funds will be used for ongoing development of its Chord signaling technology and Glasswing ultra-short reach (USR) SerDes IP.

“This round of funding will enable us to meet growing customer demand for Matterhorn as we continue to innovate and deliver high-speed connectivity solutions,” said Amin Shokrollahi, founder and CEO of Kandou.

Speaking to EE Times just before the CES 2020 show in December 2019, Shokrollahi said, “Our chip can handle multiple protocols, with the lowest active power, around 600-700mW worst case, at full speed for all links in all directions. It can support 38dB of loss so we can have cables of up to 2 meters. This is the Ferrari for retimers.” He added, “In addition to meeting standards, “we have put other features that meets specs beyond the standards. The signal conditioning is strong enough to support up to six retimers, which means it can support seven devices.”

Earlier this year, Kandou showcased the Matterhorn, or KB8001 chip, which it claims is the industry’s first USB-C multiprotocol retimer solution with USB4 support. The demonstration highlighted the benefits of its USB Type-C 40 Gbps multiprotocol switch and bidirectional bit-level retimer solution for faster video processing and data transfer connections to drive next-generation USB-enabled devices. Matterhorn follows the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) specification for USB4 and targets a wide range of applications, including mobile, tablet and desktop PCs, active cables, docking stations and gaming consoles.

Kandou_CES Demo Board
Kandou showcased the Matterhorn, or KB8001 chip, at CES earlier this year. It claims this is industry’s first USB-C multiprotocol retimer solution with USB4 support. (Image: Kandou)

The Matterhorn chip is a switch and bidirectional retimer which supports USB4 Gen2, Gen3, USB 3.2 Gen 1 / 2, DisplayPort 1.4a and Thunderbolt 2 / 3 on the same USB-C connector. In addition to this support for multiple protocols, Kando said the chip also enables low BOM cost with integrated passives such as DC blocking capacitors and pull-up / pull-down resistors and no requirement for external EEPROM or flash memory; and low active power for host computing and active cable applications

With the current funding round, Kandou has raised a total of $132.8 million. Founded in 2011 by Shokrollahi, a professor of mathematics and computer science at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland, the company is focused on high-speed and energy efficient chip to chip link solutions and said it has a strong IP portfolio of over 350 patents.  Shokrollahi has been at the forefront of research in information communication for more than 20 years. Previously, he was chief scientist of Digital Fountain, a company specializing in the transmission of data on unreliable networks acquired by Qualcomm. Among several other classes of forward error correction techniques, Shokrollahi invented Raptor codes, a class of codes standardized by 3GPP, DVB, IPTV and other standards bodies.

Participants in the latest funding include both existing investors, led by Bessemer Venture Partners, and two new investors, Climb Ventures, and Swiss Select Opportunities managed by Flexstone Partners. Felda Hardymon, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, commented, “In my 41 years in venture capital, I haven’t seen a semiconductor technology as fundamental as Kandou’s proprietary inter- and intra-chip connected technology since the advances in microprocessors in the late ’70s.  In the next decades, we will measure digital advances by their ability to move lots of data rather than by their ability to do mathematics fast.”

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