Nanotube memory maker Nantero raises more than $21 million

Dec. 9, 2016

Nantero Inc., the nanotechnology company developing next-generation memory using carbon nanotubes, yesterday announced the closing of a more than $21 million financing round. The lead investor in the round was Globespan Capital Partners; also investing were both new and existing strategic and financial investors. Nantero said it currently has more than a dozen partners and customers in the consumer electronics, enterprise systems, and semiconductor industries actively working on its trademarked NRAM high-density, high-speed nonvolatile random access storage device. The new funding will enable the company to support these partners in bringing multiple products into the market, while also enabling new customers to begin development. This financing round brings the total invested in Nantero to date to over $110 million.

“This round enables Nantero to accelerate its pace in product development, especially of its multigigabyte DDR4-compatible memory product,” said David Poltack, managing director, Globespan Capital Partners, in a press release. “Nantero has multiple industry-leading customers who would like to receive NRAM even sooner. The fact that several of these customers, as well as key partners in the ecosystem, have decided to also invest in Nantero is a strong sign of confidence given how well they know Nantero and its product from years of working together.”

“The customer traction we’ve achieved at Nantero has been overwhelming, as evidenced by our recent announcement that NRAM had been selected by both Fujitsu Semiconductor and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor,” added Greg Schmergel, cofounder and CEO of Nantero. “With this additional funding, we will be able to help these existing customers speed their time to market while also supporting the many other companies that have approached us about using Nantero NRAM in their next generation products.”

In August Nantero announced that Fujitsu Semiconductor and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor have reached an agreement with Nantero to license that company’s technology for NRAM and to conduct joint development towards releasing a product based on 55-nm process technology.

The three companies said at the time they are aiming to develop a product using NRAM that achieves several thousand times faster rewrites and many thousands of times more rewrite cycles than embedded flash memory, making it potentially capable of replacing DRAM with nonvolatile memory. Fujitsu Semiconductor plans to develop an NRAM-embedded custom LSI product by the end of 2018, with the goal of expanding the product lineup into standalone NRAM product after that. Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor, which is a pure-play foundry, plans to offer NRAM-based technology to its foundry customers.

According to Cat Zakrzewski writing yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, “…Schmergel said the 15-year-old company’s fundraising is still ‘going strong’ even as investing in chip companies becomes less common.” She quotes him as saying, “It’s still called Silicon Valley but it doesn’t invest in silicon anymore”—whereas investors in the Massachusetts-based Nantero do.

Zakrzewski adds, “The company thinks this approach could be as innovative as the introduction of flash memory chips, which paved the way for development of smartphones. Mr. Schmergel believes Nantero’s chips will benefit emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality.”

The applications for the nonvolatile RAM Nantero is developing include smartphones, tablets, enterprise systems, and notebook and desktop computers. The company says the technology will also find use in the automotive and industrial arena. NRAM can be manufactured for both standalone and embedded memory applications. Nantero said it is also working with licensees on the development of additional applications of Nantero’s core nanotube-based technology.

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