Quantance starts shipping battery-boosting LTE chip

The Quantance chip

Quantance’s LTE power boosting technology is now out of the labs and on its way to device manufacturers, the San Mateo, Calif., power supply startup said on Tuesday. It has begun shipping samples of its qBoost chips to handset makers and radio silicon vendors, but most significantly it claims to have landed its first customer.
CEO and co-founder Vikas Vinayak wouldn’t name the customer or any details of the deal, citing confidentiality agreements, but he said the commitment allows Quantance to begin ramping up production this year.
Quantance utilizes a technology called envelope tracking to overcome one of LTE’s biggest limitations, it’s high peak-to-average ratio, which sucks down battery power and limits talk and surf time on your smartphone. LTE is unique among radio interfaces in that it’s power levels rise and dip dramatically throughout a transmission, compared to less schizophrenic 3G and 2G technologies. Jeremy Hendy, a VP at competing power supply vendor Nujira, had an apt analogy: You can think of 3G and 2G technologies as heavy metal music – pretty much consistently loud – while LTE is like classical music with long moments of quiet punctuated with wild crescendos.
The end result is that LTE device amplifiers need to maintain a constant flow of power to account for those peaks even if most of the time the transmission requires far less energy, which is one of the biggest reasons LTE devices have such miserable battery life. What envelope tracking technologies do is wrap the transmission in the power equivalent of a latex bondage suit, constantly matching the wattage put out by the amp to the power required for the transmission.
Quantance claims its envelop tracking technology stands out due to its speed, switching between low and high power modes 100 times faster than its competitors’ chips. That allows Quantance to not only improve the battery efficiency – and thus battery life – of LTE handsets and tablets, but also optimize the LTE transmission, meaning more capacity and a more persistent link to the tower.
Quantance presented at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference last year, winning the awards for audience and judges’ favorites among 10 new startups at the conference’s Launchpad event. The company closed on an $11 million round of funding in September from the TD Fund, Granite Ventures, InterWest Partners and DOCOMO Capital.