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9 March 2007


Axiom adds VP of operations to ramp production of newly GSM type-approved CMOS PA

Axiom Microdevices Inc of Irvine, CA, USA has appointed Gary Cheek as vice president of operations, responsible for building and leading its operations team as well as ramping production of its CMOS power amplifier (PA) products. Founded in 2002 with patented technology developed at the California Institute of Technology, Axiom claims to be the first company to provide cell-phone power amplifiers fully integrated on a single CMOS silicon die (using commodity 130nm process technology) .

Cheek has more than 20 years of experience in engineering and manufacturing operations. Before joining Axiom, he was responsible for foundry operations at Analog Devices Inc (ADI) and Conexant Systems Inc. At ADI, his responsibilities included engineering and manufacturing operations, from business relationships to capacity rationalization and yield management. At Conexant, he led its move to a fabless manufacturing model and was responsible for front-end and back-end operations, overseeing all manufacturing, facilities, quality, supply-chain management, manufacturing business operations and procurement. Cheek has also been an executive for several startups as well as an operations management consultant.

Earlier in February, Axiom secured $25m in a Series C round of funding (led by Tallwood Venture Capital and joined by existing investors US Venture Partners, Anthem Venture Partners, and VentureTech Alliance). The funds are being used to ramp production of the firm’s first-generation CMOS PAs and to develop its product roadmap.

“We are providing handset manufacturers with the time-tested advantages of mainstream CMOS through integration,” says CEO Brett Butler. “CMOS integration has been instrumental in driving down the cost of cellular handsets over the past 10 years,” adds Ron Yara, general partner of Tallwood Venture Capital. “Handset makers must continue to fully utilize mainstream CMOS if they are to satisfy cost and supply continuity needs,” he claims.

At the end of February, Axiom said that its AX502 CMOS PA (designed into a cellular handset) had completed full type approval (FTA) testing for compliance with GSM specifications and performance requirements.

The reliability of the AX502 had already been proven through thousands of hours of life testing at accelerated operating conditions, including load mismatches of up to 15:1 VSWR ( voltage standing wave ratio) and elevated supply voltages, the firm added.

Axiom’s technology allows the use of mainstream 130nm CMOS silicon process technology to integrate full quad-band GSM/GPRS PA functions (all of the functions between transmitter output and transmit/receive switch, including power gain stages, small-signal control circuitry and 50-ohm matching) on a single die.

“The cellular handset industry is now starting to enjoy the benefits that accompany moving the last major RF function into mainstream CMOS,” said Donald McClymont, VP of marketing. This development will enable “new levels of integration and new cost points,” he claims.