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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Redpine Signals Setting The Bar High in Wireless Industries

Vimali Swamy
Friday, February 4, 2011
Vimali Swamy
At an American football game in September last year, while a majority of the 75,000 fans at a New Jersey stadium could only watch replays on one of the stadium’s four, high-definition video boards, a small number of people had a more convenient way to watch the key moments of the game - along with their choice of replay angles. For they had FanVision, a smartphone-like dedicated device – a hybrid of Wi-Fi and locally broadcast UHF video technologies that has been revolutionizing the way football is enjoyed at the stadiums. A small hand held device, FanVision allows audiences to view the replays of the game during a break session, order food from the food court without having to go there and seeing a host of statistics related to the game. A device with such high end Wi-Fi connectivity requires strong wireless modules in it and this was powered by Redpine Signals.

Founded in 2001, San Jose, California, headquartered Redpine Signals is a wireless systems company with unique chipset and system level products for wireless networks and Smart Energy solutions. Over the past decade, Redpine has created advanced wireless technology that has gone into the creation of ultra low power and high performance products for the next generation wireless applications. One of the first in the industry to launch a single stream 802.11n chipset in late 2007, the company today has in its portfolio, several modules and sub-systems focusing on specific vertical market segments including industrial, wireless sensor, wireless audio & video, voice over Wi-Fi and high end consumer.

Made in India
2001 was a time of upheaval in the IT industry as it saw both tremendous boom and bust. But despite the instability, Venkat Mattela along with a few very experienced technocrats found immense opportunity in the VLSI especially Wireless segment and subsequently founded Redpine Signals. This downtime also gave the company the luxury of time to develop its technology while keeping a very few key people in. Also, despite being conceptualized in the U.S., the company was keen on setting up its R&D center in India. “The off shoring model had really taken off in the IT services sector and we were keen on using the same for product development. So keeping in mind both the financial merit and the availability of technical skill, we started our engineering center in Hyderabad. The idea was to have best of both worlds — technology, execution and business expertise from U.S. and skilled talent from India,” explains Mattela, Chairman and CEO, Redpine Signals.

Unlike a software product, no two wireless products are the same and the key difference lies in the ability to extract the transmitted information from signals that are subject to significant degradation. Later, translating this into hardware is another huge challenge since size of the hardware has to be limited. Developing such high level fail proof wireless products requires a high level of skill and domain knowledge and innovation and Redpine kick-started doing exactly the same.

“To address all the different aspects of a chip is a matter of great innovation and the challenge lies in making an algorithm in a hardware using minimum resources required. We started by developing expertise in that area. In parallel we also needed to develop core VSLI blocks, what is today called the System on a Chip,” explains Chandra Shekhar Abburi, VP – Systems and Software, Redpine Signals. The company initially used products sourced from its partners to do the analog and RF but going forward it had a wide range of product portfolio in place with expertise around each one of them, ensuring everything was home grown in the years that came by.

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