November 04, 2003
The name "Jedi Technologies" probably brings to mind Star Wars for most people - including the movie series' creator, George Lucas, who requested that the startup change its name. So the company changed its name to Nazomi Communications, a reference to "Nozomi," Japan's fastest bullet train. Nazomi has developed a multimedia applications processor for cell phones that accelerates Java and other multimedia platforms.
Mukesh Patel and Jay Kamdar founded Nazomi/Jedi in 1998 initially as an IP company, switching to the fabless model in 2001. Both Patel and Kamdar, as well as VP of technology CN Patel (no relation to Mukesh) all previously worked together at Sun Microsystems.
Mukesh Patel, who serves as president and CEO, was Sun Microsystems's senior manager of the Java and UltraSPARC microprocessor design group.
Kamdar, Nazomi's COO and VP of marketing and sales, was a group marketing manager for Java processor products at Sun Microsystems. Prior to Sun, he spent 14 years with National Semiconductor in a number of positions, including product marketing director for a division producing logic, mass storage controllers, interface products and very advanced bus controllers, and North American marketing director for National's microcontroller, microprocessor and memory divisions.
The company's VP of technology, CN Patel, was previously director of engineering for Switch-On Networks (later acquired by PMC-Sierra). Before that, he was director of engineering for Sun Microsystems' MicroJava development. He has also held technical positions at Integrated Device Technology, Sony Micro Electronics, Hitachi Microsystems and Zilog.
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led Nazomi's June 1999 $5-million first-round funding. Alliance Ventures led the startup's June 2000 $18-million second round of venture funding, and was joined by NEA, Ignite Group and Redwood Ventures. Nazomi is currently closing a $15-million third round, led by NEA.
Nazomi has 30 employees in the U.S., but also outsources to a dedicated design center in India. Nazomi prefers not to name the India design center, which has about 20 people.
Nazomi's original IP handled Java acceleration only, but when the company decided to make chips, it broadened its focus to become a multimedia applications accelerator. Nazomi's technology now provides acceleration not only for Java, but also video and imaging, 2D/3D graphics, animation, gaming and other multimedia platforms.
Between its earlier IP and its JA108 chip, which began volume shipping in May 2003, Nazomi's technology is currently in about one million cell phones. The company's announced customers include Sharp, Samsung and SK Teletech, the latter two being phone suppliers to SK Telecom. Nazomi will be announcing several additional customers in the near future.
Nazomi is shipping two products, the JA108 standalone application processor and a JA108 space-saving design that is integrated with memory. The integrated part has five different dies stacked in a single package, and includes 128 Mb of flash memory and 32 Mb of SRAM. Nazomi is targeting the JA108 at the mass-market sub-$5 market, and says it is pricing the part very aggressively.
Nazomi designed the JA108 with a simple memory interface; to the baseband processor, the chip looks like memory. Because the baseband must go through the chip to get to memory, the JA108 has a mechanism that turns on and off when the baseband wants to access the memory.
This design enables the JA108 to work with any baseband processor, as the only requirement is that the baseband has a 16-bit SRAM bus, which every cell phone has. Nazomi's objective was to enable customers' new and existing designs by providing a "plug and play" part that does not require extra MHz, new tools, re-porting, additional system memory, advance processors or any kind of change in the customer's "design religion."
Power consumption in the JA108's standby mode is 20 microamps. When run at the full capacity of 104 MHz, power consumption is 40 milliamps.
Nazomi's strategy is to move from the mass-market low end to the high end. To develop its next part, the higher-performance JA208, Nazomi partnered with the Mitsubishi/Hitachi joint venture Renesas Technology. Under the partnership, the companies are exchanging technology patents and IP, enabling the startup to fill in some gaps it has in its portfolio.
The JA208 will be available in mid-2004. The next chip after that on Nazomi's roadmap is the JA308, scheduled for release in 2005.
In May 2002, Nazomi filed a lawsuit against ARM, claiming that ARM's Jazelle Java acceleration technology infringed on one of its patents. ARM responded by redesigning its technology and filing for a summary judgment, which resulted in a decision in ARM's favor. Nazomi is appealing the ruling.
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