|Founded:||April 1997 |
To be the leader of consumer oriented Digital Subscriber Line
Centillium is a fabless semiconductor company developing
consumer-oriented Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) solutions for
manufacturers of telecommunications equipment. These solutions allow
consumers and businesses to use existing copper telephone lines to
transmit and receive data up to twenty times faster than today's
fastest analog modems.
Centillium has developed a G.lite based DSL
technology that is as affordable and easy to deploy as
56K-modem technology in both central office (CO) and customer premises
equipment (CPE). The Company believes its DSL technology will enable
telephone companies and other service providers to offer high-speed
digital subscriber lines broadly to consumers and businesses.
Centillium was founded in April 1997 by a group of Silicon Valley
veterans led by the well-known entrepreneur Kamran Elahian. Over the
past 20 years, Elahian has co-founded numerous successful technology
companies, including CAE Systems, Cirrus Logic, and Neomagic.
Centillium addresses a very broad market opportunity, namely the
growing need for bandwidth. The number of households worldwide
connected to the Internet is expected to triple from 50 million in
1997 to 150 million in 2000 (source: Morgan Stanley, Internet
Report). Similarly, the value of goods and services traded over
the global Internet is expected to multiply from $8 billion in 1997 to
over $327 billion in 2002 (source: Forrester Research).
Despite these projections for widespread adoption of the Internet,
limited bandwidth is still a major headache for most consumers and
business users. Traditional analog modems, the devices that enable
computers to communicate over telephone lines, have not kept pace with
the needs of users. In fact, 40 percent of online users switch up to
higher speed modems products within the first year of their
introduction (source: UBS Securities). Phone companies already are
rebuilding their networks for fiber cabling, but wiring the entire
country for fiber is a costly and slow process. According to published
studies, telcos can install new fiber cabling at 7 percent of their
installed access line base in any given year. Because demand for
access lines grows at about 3 percent per year, the net upgrade to the
network is about 4 percent per year, which means fiber will not reach
many customers for 20 to 25 years.
One potential solution to the bandwidth problem is DSL
technology. Conventional voice traffic and dial-up data over analog
phone lines plain old telephone service (POTS) currently uses
only less than 1 percent of the bandwidth available of the copper
wiring. DSL technology takes advantage of the unused bandwidth to
transmit digital data at high speeds.
The various flavors of DSL technology include Asymmetric
DSL (ADSL), Symmetrical DSL (SDSL), High-bit-rate DSL (HDSL),
Very-high-bit-rate DSL (VDSL), and Rate Adaptive DSL (RADSL). All of
these DSL technologies use intelligent devices similar to network
cards at each end of twisted-pair copper wire already in place
to transmit and receive data at high speeds.
Despite the benefits of DSL technology, carriers and ISPs have been
reluctant to rollout digital subscriber lines for three main
- DSL technology is challenging to deploy. DSL technologies have
required difficult installation and network engineering
processes. Also, ISP and telco engineers must make sure that copper
lines are clean and the distance between the central
office and the end user does not exceed the limit.
- DSL line cards consume high amounts of power. High power
consumption generates heat, which prevents carriers from putting large
numbers of DSL line cards into a single central office rack. The
resulting racks have low port densities and high costs per port.
- DSL technology requires new modem-like devices on both the
user and the phone company end of the line. Today, these devices are
quite expensive, costing anywhere from $900 to $1,500 per
Technology and Products
Centillium has developed a consumer-oriented G.lite based DSL technology
which addresses many of the problems that have
hindered the widespread deployment of digital subscriber lines.
- On the central-office side of the DSL equation, products based on
Centillium's G.lite DSL chip sets will be as easy to deploy
as POTS equipment. Carriers
simply pull existing line cards and replace them with true
plug-and-play DSL cards. Adaptive line drive technology enables
telcos to deploy DSL products on copper lines with varying
conditions, further reducing installation and network engineering
- These line cards consume very low amounts of power, enabling
telephone companies to deploy line cards with high port densities and
low cost per port.
- Centilliums DSL technology lowers the cost of DSL equipment
needed by service providers to the point where mass deployment of DSL
by carriers and ISPs becomes economically viable. On the customer
equipment side of the DSL equation, Centilliums DSL technology is
price competitive with 56K analog modems and is as easy to install.
Later in 1998, Centillium plans to introduce a DSL chip set based on
the ITU G.lite specification.
Centillium will market its chip set products directly to manufacturers
of central office equipment such as line cards for central office
switches, digital loop carriers and access concentrators, as well as
makers of end-user modems.
Centillium is highly focused on developing the best chip set solutions
for the DSL equipment market. It brings several core competencies to
the DSL market, making it an attractive business partner for
manufacturers of telecommunications equipment.
- DSP Technology. Centilliums digital signal
processing technology provides very high levels of performance because
it is optimized specifically for DSL applications. The Company
believes that its DSP technology is currently one full generation
ahead of the competition.
- Integration. Centillium has developed a highly
integrated line-card-on-a-chip that contains the
most DSL functionality found on a single chip today. This enables
customers to create high density line cards that are cost effective
and low power.
- Line Card Design Services Most chip set
companies provide equipment manufacturers with reference designs, but
Centillium goes a step further by offering a value-added service group
that works hand-in-hand with manufacturers on design issues. Through
this service, Centillium focuses on understanding the needs equipment
makers and helping speed their time-to-market with products.
To date, Centillium has raised over $20 million from a number of
investors, including U.S. Venture Partners, Walden International
Ventures, Vertex Ventures, VentureStar, Korea Technology Banking,
Mitsubishi Electric and Sumitomo Electric. Centillium is well funded
to meet its technical and marketing objectives.
Centillium was founded by a small group of entrepreneurs with a
powerful track record of success. The founders included
Tony OToole, and
all of whom are executives of the Company today.