November 27, 2007
Don't laugh, but a semiconductor startup named Gigle is aiming to unify home-networking standards by transmitting over coax, powerline, and phone lines arbitrarily, trying to beat a potential International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard to market.
After a couple of years of being quiet, Gigle Semiconductor is talking -- a little bit -- about its chip plans. The company has also gotten a $20 million infusion of money, announced today, from new investor Scottish Equity Partners and prior investors Accel Partners and Pond Venture Partners Ltd. (See Gigle Gets $20M.)
You might recall Gigle from our Top Ten New Startups, where it made a bit of a splash despite the name. (See Gigle Semiconductor and Readers 'Gigle' at Top Startups List.)
The $20 million second round brings Gigle's total funding to $31 million and sets the company up to produce chips in volume in 2008. "We certainly would expect to see products on the market using our chip next year, says Davin McAndrews, Gigle's senior vice president of marketing.
Chips for home networking have become a hot item lately -- or, at least, the companies themselves think so. Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) and Intellon Corp. (Nasdaq: ITLN) have issued prospectuses (prospecti? prospectum?) for possible IPOs, although neither have launched yet. (See Entropic Wires Up an IPO and Intellon Plugs Into IPO Market.)
But their chips focus on single standards for home networking. Entropic is championing the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) standard. Intellon is best known for supporting the HomePlug Powerline Alliance 1.0 standard, although it's found its way into coax applications. (See H3C Picks Intellon.)
Using a technology it's calling mediaxtream, Gigle claims it's got one chip that runs on any of the three normal types of home wiring, at rates up to 1 Gbit/s. More impressively, mediaxtream can run two of the connectivity types at once, providing a new level of flexibility, McAndrews says.
Gigle recognizes that these types of chips don't go far without supporting standards, so its first products will support the HomePlug standard in addition to mediaxtream.
Standards-based competition for Gigle could be on the way, though. ITU Study Group 15 is developing a G.hn standard for home networking over any type of wire.
Gigle is offering up ideas for the standards committee, probably hoping that mediaxtream becomes a major portion of the standard. Still -- what happens if G.hn turns out to conflict with mediaxtream?
"That's a real hypothetical. It doesn't make sense to talk about it now," McAndrews says.
Well, that sure settles the question.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading
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