Discera Gets Strong VC Signal

Chip component maker Discera has closed on a $12 million Series B from 3i, Partech, Ardesta and QUALCOMM Inc.

Founded in 2001 the Campbell, Calif.-based company uses standard CMOS semiconductor manufacturing to produce its MEMS-based micro-resonators. It hopes its technology will replace bulky and expensive crystal oscillators that provide timing signals for cell phones.

Discera CEO Didier LaCroix says that while the cellular market is the first application for Discera’s technology, it has a wider potential in personal computers, PDAs, or wherever crystal oscillators are currently in use. The current market for such products is around $3 billion per year, with over 10 billion parts being supplied to systems builders.

Discera’s technology was first developed at the University of California at Berkeley, then improved upon by additional research at the University of Michigan before Discera began developing commercial products, LaCroix says.

Discera is currently sampling devices to OEMs and sub-system builders. Its main competition at present comes from within large public companies, such as Kyocera, Epson and Vectron International, which have their own oscillator product lines and development efforts. Discera also competes with component suppliers, such as IBM and Intel.