50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2018

Bringing New Multi-Mode Products to Market Much Faster than the Conventional ASIC Approach: Icera, Inc

thesiliconreview-stan-boland-ceo-president-founder-icera-inc-2018Icera is the world’s leading company in the design, production, and sales of soft modem chipsets that deliver high-performance communication engines for cellular products. These chipsets are at the center of its lives today - smartphones and tablets plus modules and USB sticks that turn its notebooks into internet-everywhere devices. 

As a result of the Icera’s unique system architecture, its products are able to combine the highest user throughput and advanced modem features with the smallest footprints and the lowest costs, allowing us all to have smaller, faster and more affordable high technology devices.

Icera’s direct customers are the world’s largest cellphone product manufacturers, who select its technology, buy its chipsets and deliver products to mobile network operators on a global basis.  Since the launch of first Icera-powered products in 2007 in Japan, a further 40+ global operators have now approved Icera technology on their networks, including the largest US and European providers.  As a result, Icera has evolved from being a small start-up to becoming the #2 vendor in mobile broadband products and is now set to become the challenger in high-performance Android smartphones, for which we are delivering platforms in partnership with leading application processor vendors.

Icera’s chipset is made up of its soft baseband silicon, based on its new DXP® processor technology, combined with radio frequency silicon to form an integrated platform on which we develop air interface technology.  All of this technology is developed in software and runs on DXP® processor.  This software model allows us to innovate quickly, achieve fast time-to-market and exceed the throughput performances of its competitors by a significant margin and with no power or system cost penalty.  Today, we focus this capability on the largest markets for cellular technology – GSM/GPRS/EDGE (together 2G), WCDMA/HSPA/HSPA+ (together 3G) and LTE (4G).  Icera’s software supports both voice and data services and we support customers with reference systems, development and debug tools, drivers, and engineering support services.  There are no real limits on the number of standards we can ultimately support and we plan to add new air interfaces to the platform on an accelerated basis as we grow its business.

From a standing start, Icera already employs over 300 staff and has major design locations in the UK, France, USA, and China with customer support and sales offices across Asia, Europe, and the USA. The company is strongly backed by some of the world’s largest venture capital firms, who have invested $250M of equity funding into the business since its founding in 2002.

The First-Rate Icera Solutions

Smartphones and Tablet Solutions

Smartphones and tablets are different from feature phones, not just because they deliver a rich user experience in an attractive form factor, but because they offer instant, quick and always-on access to the internet, wherever the user happens to be.

It arrives as mobile network operators are investing heavily in 3.5G (HSPA+) and 4G (LTE) technologies and Icera develop, produce and sell the communication chipset that provides the high-speed link between the smartphone device and the mobile network operator. Icera's technology is complete in all dimensions - baseband and RF - 2G, 3G and 4G capable; voice and data; fast interfaces to Android and other operating systems. More than that, Icera makes sure that its chipset provides manufacturers and operators with clear differentiation.

Icera chipsets are the smallest and fit into the smallest PCB area; its systems consume the lowest power so extending battery life, and provide blistering fast data rates that outpace those of every aspiring competitor when used on real networks. That means a great user experience and, for the mobile network operator, the lowest cost per MB.

Mobile Broadband Solutions

Icera's soft modem chipsets are smaller than any other devices but amazingly deliver speeds that exceed those of the competition. In fact, independent modem testing in three of the last four years shows Icera's modem offers best in class performance for HSPA throughput, particularly in the most challenging network conditions. And that means that whether the Icera-powered modem is on a USB stick or is the engine inside a cellular module for a PC or gadget; one will get a faster service from the mobile network operator.

Today, because of Icera’s amazing technology solution, the company is the second biggest vendor in Mobile Broadband chipsets, approved on over 40 different operator networks, including the largest.

The Flagship Technology

Icera’s chipset is made up of soft baseband silicon, based on the new DXP processor technology, combined with Icera’s radio frequency silicon to form an integrated platform on which the company develops air interface technology.  All of Icera’s technology is developed in software and runs on the DXP processor. 

Icera DXP

DXP is a new class of processor that delivers a breakthrough in performance at the low power consumption necessary in mobile applications. It has been designed and implemented by Icera to target wireless communications algorithms and control code.

The DXP design allows the entire modem functionality (including a physical layer, protocol stack, RTOS, drivers, and codecs) to be implemented in software on a single core device. This can be achieved without any need for hardware acceleration blocks, separate protocol stack processor, duplicated tightly-coupled memories or distributed memories across the device.

The amazing software model based on DXP allows the company to innovate quickly, achieve fast time-to-market and exceed the throughput performances of its competitors by a significant margin and with no power or system cost penalty. 

The Man behind Icera

Stan Boland is the CEO & President and Founder of Icera. Stan is responsible for the overall management of Icera, Inc. and is a member of the Board of Directors and a founder of the Company.

Prior to founding Icera, Stan was Vice President and General Manager of the DSL business unit of Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ: BRCM). Stan was also the CEO of Acorn Group plc, a publicly-quoted electronics company which Morgan Stanley acquired in 1999 for $440M, and was a director of ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMHY), an associate of Acorn.

He graduated in Physics from Cambridge University, is a Member of the IEEE and is qualified as an FCMA and an MCT.