Scalinx Eyes Wireless Network Infrastructure, Automotive Markets

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With the MWC 2024 trade show about to open in Barcelona, Spain, Paris-based startup Scalinx has stated its ambitions to extend its scope from specialized to wider markets with the design and supply of SoCs based on ultra-high–speed data converters, particularly needed in 5G and 6G networks and autonomous vehicles.

Hussein Fakhoury, founder and CEO of Scalinx
Hussein Fakhoury, founder and CEO of Scalinx

In a discussion with EE Times Europe, Hussein Fakhoury, founder and CEO of Scalinx, detailed how Scalinx plans to use the recently secured €34 million in funding to support its SoC product roadmap.

EE Times Europe: MWC is just around the corner. What’s your view on the current state of 5G and 6G network infrastructure developments in Europe?

Hussein Fakhoury: From the semiconductor angle, there are not enough European players supplying chip solutions for 5G network infrastructures. This is partly due to the huge investment needed to develop chips in advanced process nodes as needed for 5G/6G. Hopefully, this may change for 6G, as the public sector has made progress in supporting this sector—the EU Chips Act is a good example—and our recent fundraising proves that there are still private venture firms investing in hardware startups.

EE Times Europe: Scalinx was founded in 2015 as a spinout from Telecom ParisTech. Can you tell us about the context in which you created the company?

Fakhoury: In 2015, well before the Covid crisis, the lack of European sovereignty in semiconductors didn’t resonate as it does today but was truly real. Particularly, all the very specialized companies in the design of high-speed data-conversion ICs were either from the U.S. or Japan. The lack of European actors in the field of high-speed data-conversion IC design and the need to have small, agile players capable of addressing customers’ pains in very specific markets were my main motivations to found Scalinx.

EE Times Europe: What problem were you trying to solve at the time?

Fakhoury: For sensitive sectors like defense and space, there was a strong need to have sovereign alternatives to U.S. players. Additionally, for other niche markets like test and measurement, the smaller players were demanding custom solutions but didn’t get the attention of big players, such as Analog Devices and Texas Instruments. At the time, there were no European players focusing on the design of high-speed data-conversion ICs, so we started as a design service company, supplying turnkey ASICs for niche markets demanding high-speed, high-performance data-conversion ICs.

EE Times Europe: Do you think you’re well on the way to resolving it?

Fakhoury: As a startup that started from scratch, we have successfully addressed both defense and test and measurement markets by supplying our OEM customers with custom IC solutions enabling differentiating systems compared with the approach of using standard components from the big, well-established players. We have managed to create a name in niche markets, and now our challenge is to expand into mass markets. Our recent entry into the wireless communication infrastructure market is a great opportunity to reach this new milestone.

EE Times Europe: The company claims its data-conversion SCCORE technology “enables the design of highly integrated mixed-signal SoCs capable of processing wideband and multi-carrier signals with outstanding energy efficiency.” What’s differentiating about your technology?

Fakhoury: Our smart conversion core (SCCORE) technology enables pushing the performance and sampling-rate of the critical data-conversion functions (ADC/DAC) to the limit of the fabrication process while controlling energy consumption. It makes it ideal for communication systems requiring ICs with ever-increasing numbers of transmit/receive paths, like in 5G/6G, radar/LiDAR or even test and measurement equipment. SCCORE brings together all the proprietary architectures and calibration techniques continually developed by our R&D team.

EE Times Europe: Scalinx claims its solutions will help telecom players deliver ultra-high–capacity, multi-gigabit links over longer distances. Could you provide more details?

Fakhoury: Compared with current market solutions, our low-power data-conversion SCCORE technology will enable the development of an SoC product integrating a higher number of transmit/receive paths, each consisting of high-speed data converters along with multi-core modem functions and many other complex features.

EE Times Europe: In 2021, Scalinx raised €10.5 million. In January 2024, the company secured €34 million in a second round of funding. The company said it will use the funds to develop SoC products and expand its customer base. Could you be more specific about your plan to use the money?

Fakhoury: Moving from data-converter–centric analog/mixed-signal (AMS) IC design toward complex SoC design requires a critical team size as well as new competencies, especially in the field of digital design and software. The secured money will help us to double the size of our engineering team over the next two years, and we are considering acquisitions to reach this ambitious goal faster.

EE Times Europe: Scalinx expects to expand its presence in the automotive market. What exactly will you develop for AVs?

Fakhoury: We plan to develop complex SoCs for radar and LiDAR systems.

EE Times Europe: Scalinx’s new investors include the French State, through its “French Tech Souveraineté” fund program managed by Bpifrance. What role does Scalinx intend to play in helping France regain its technological sovereignty in such strategic areas as 5G/6G?

Fakhoury: Scalinx will contribute to the development of a European semiconductor ecosystem by bringing expertise in the design of ultra-high–speed data converters, which are the central elements of any communication systems. By leveraging this unique expertise in Europe and the talent of our multidisciplinary engineering team, we have the ambition to design and supply complex communication ICs integrating our high-speed data-converter IPs along with other IPs either designed in-house or by partners.

EE Times Europe: The company is now nine years old. The fundraising will give it new impetus. What are the company’s short- and mid-term ambitions?

Fakhoury: Our short-term goal is to scale our market share in wireless communication infrastructures by expanding our number of customers. This will help us to gain credibility in our ability to address mass markets in the midterm. Our vision is to become a global, well-established semiconductor company and continue serving our customers worldwide, both in strategic and mass markets.

EE Times Europe: In December, Scalinx sealed an agreement with Arteris to license its Ncore and FlexNoC interconnect IP. Why Arteris’s network-on-chip interconnect IP products?

Fakhoury: Moving from data-converter–centric AMS IC design toward complex SoC design requires trusted IP partners with complementary expertise. Arteris meets this need in the field of NoC interconnects.

EE Times Europe: Why will they make a difference in your development/delivery of the next generation of Modem SoCs?

Fakhoury: Arteris has a proven track record in the design of NoC interconnects for complex SoCs dedicated to the wireless infrastructure market.

EE Times Europe: Could you provide us with more details on Scalinx’s new Modem SoC?

Fakhoury: Our new SoC will integrate low-power wideband multi-channel ADC/DAC paths, advanced data-processing functions and a multi-core modem, which can simultaneously address microwave and millimeter-wave bands, enabling the connection of 5G and future 6G radio access to the core network with the fastest throughput and optimum total cost of ownership.

EE Times Europe: When will it be ready for delivery?

Fakhoury: We will be ready for delivery by 2026.


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