Peraso delivers solutions ahead of the curve
EP&T MagazineElectronics Semiconductors Wireless 5G mmWave Peraso semiconductor wireless
CMC-enabled research poised to play a big role in 5G wireless
Peraso Inc., a Canadian semiconductor company born out of CMC-enabled academic research, is poised to play a big role in 5G wireless communications. The firm was founded in 2009, based on research in University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering by Professor Sorin Voinigescu, and his students. In the mid-2000s the group’s work in the then-new high-frequency 60 gigahertz (GHz) band was well ahead of its time, at a time when cellphones didn’t have the capacity to process the vast amounts of data we all take for granted today, according to Ian McWalter, former CEO of CMC Microsystems and now a member of Peraso’s board of directors.
“We were there at the start to support Sorin’s grad students with CAD tools,” recalls McWalter.
It would be another 10 years before the wireless industry caught up with the solution offered by Peraso. In the meantime, under the guidance of CEO Ron Glibbery, the company’s forward-looking work caught the interest of a venture capitalist who had his own CMC connection.
“mmWave chips were too expensive to build, and adoption was hard. We had to wait until technology got more mature and became a more viable solution. That’s what we’re seeing now.” says Imed Zine, a former employee of CMC who later started Roadmap Capital, an early investor in Peraso. “Now mmwave is becoming a new Radio (NR) for 5G and Peraso will be a major player in that market”.
Need for digging optic fibers
In 2019 the company’s fortunes accelerated when it attracted $42M U.S. to develop its chips for the 60 GHz band. More recently, the company’s technology has found traction in the emergence of the fixed-wireless access (FWA) market, where mmWave technology is replacing the need for digging optic fibers. It’s also finding market niches in the growth of virtual reality and any other wireless applications that requires high data rate and low latency. In addition, Peraso is using its mmWave expertise that was developed over one decade, to address the 5G market.
‘They’re shining examples of the success you can have with semiconductor-based devices. It shows we have good expertise here in Canada, and CMC is at the heart of that ecosystem’
In 2022 Peraso Inc. went public with a listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange. It is currently one of a handful of pure-play 5G companies publicly trading on that exchange.
Expanded markets serve as significant new opportunity
“This is a very exciting time for the company, as we expand on our extensive experience developing mmWave products for the 60GHz market. Our new 5G mmWave product line offers unmatched integration and performance, and the expanded markets we can serve represent a significant new opportunity for Peraso” said Ron Glibbery, CEO and co-founder of Peraso.
It’s a major milestone that few startup companies achieve. For McWalter, it’s another step on the long road to success in hardware innovation. The key is long-term commitment, he says. “Unlike software apps, there are no overnight successes when you’re doing hardware.” He likens the company’s progress to another Canadian semiconductor success story, GaN Systems. Founded in 2008, its early work in the development of gallium nitride (GaN) technologies was supported by CMC. (Dr. McWalter also eventually served as its board chair.) Last year the company raised US$150M in investment.
“These are two semiconductor device companies that are going to be selling in two very interesting technology areas, radio waves and power conversion,” he says. “They are both green technologies, offering huge reductions in power consumption. They’re shining examples of the success you can have with semiconductor-based devices. It shows we have good expertise here in Canada, and CMC is at the heart of that ecosystem. Looking 10 years down the road, Canada is going to need a lot more of this to remain competitive.”
In March of 2023, GaN Systems Inc., was acquired by Infineon Technologies AG for USD$830-million.