Irish chip firm in breakthrough HD deal

5 Jul 2007

Irish semiconductor firm RedMere has signed a major agreement with Fairchild Semiconductor that will see its technology used to connect future high-definition (HD) TV products with Blu-RayDVD players and devices like Sky HD.

Fairchild Semiconductor is one of the founding players in Silicon Valley and employs 9,000 people worldwide. The company’s electronics feature throughout the global consumer, automotive and communications industries.

As part of the deal, RedMere will supply semiconductor devices for connectivity products for the HDTV and consumer multimedia markets to Fairchild.

Fairchild will release a new line of products starting with HDMI switch and repeater solutions incorporating RedMere’s patented MagnifEyeTM technology.

The Fairchild Products will enable end users to connect multiple HDMI devices such as gaming consoles, Blu-Ray DVD and set-top boxes to the High Definition Flat Screen TV in the living room.

A switch allows end users to select whether the DVD player, the game console or set top box is displayed on screen. A repeater is used to provide a HDMI input on the front of a HDTV or to enable long cable runs for a larger home theatre installation.

“Applications include high-definition TVs, set-top boxes, projection systems, DVD recorders, media PCs and other consumer devices,” said Jerry Johnston, Fairchild’s product line director for Analog Switches.

“Our relationship with RedMere will enable Fairchild to rapidly expand our current portfolio of products in markets where we already have strong customer relationships and market presence.

“HDMI connectivity is expected to be as pervasive as USB connectors, and home theaters are driving this demand. With multiple HDMI inputs, consumers are able to connect more than one application at a time, such as a digital set-top box and a game station, connected to their high-definition TV,” continued Johnston.

“System designers also find our high-bandwidth HDMI switches easy to use because they can add a second port to their HDMI products without changing internal aspects of the application, or redesigning for an extra feature,” Johnston said.

RedMere has become an emerging player in the market for semiconductors that power HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) cabling; the new industry standard in the consumer electronics industry and capable of crystal-clear digital video and audio.

Last month the company struck its first breakthrough deal with cabling giant Molex to provide intelligence to its HDMI products.

“Reliable, high performance interconnect has clearly become a major differentiator in the HDTV market,” said Peter Smyth, CEO, RedMere Technology.

“We are delighted to announce this relationship with Fairchild which provides RedMere with a top-tier manufacturing and marketing partner and will provide HDTV manufacturers with a broader portfolio of world-class interconnect products from a world-leader in high-volume interface solutions.”

Last year RedMere closed its first round of funding to the tune of US$8.5m led by Celtic House Venture Partners of Ottawa and London and included syndicate partners Enterprsie Ireland, Dolmen Securities and Enterprise Equity.

The company received a further funding boost to the tune of US$5m in April from Edgestone Capital Partners along with additional reinvestment by the original investors, including Celtic House.

The company is known as a ‘fab-less’ semiconductor maker because instead of manufacturing its own chips it designs them in Ireland and has them manufactured in Taiwan by contract companies. This is the same business model used by semiconductor player Xilinx.

By John Kennedy