Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is betting on Austin-based Ambiq Micro, which is preparing to launch a new line of ultra-low power chips.
Kleiner Perkins was the lead investor in a $15 million round of capital. Previous backers including Austin Ventures, Mercury Fund, ARM Holdings and Huron River Ventures also participated.
Ambiq Micro has raised a total of $31 million since its founding in 2010.
The company says its technology dramatically reduces the energy consumption of semiconductors by reducing the voltage level at which switching occurs inside the chips. That enables the development of products such as wearable electronic devices to have longer lasting battery power.
Using its technology, some products will run for months or even years between battery changes, the company said.
Ambiq Micro is already shipping its first generation of timing devices, known as “real time clocks.”
The company said in the next few weeks it will announce its next generation of microcontrollers, which are brain chips that control the operations of many devices from smartphones to automobile stereos. Billions of them are sold every year worldwide.
Kleiner Perkins partner Wen Hsieh said, “In a world where consumers and businesses are always on, there’s an increasing need for devices with improved energy efficiency and battery life. Ambiq Micro has developed a 10 times lower power microcontroller for mobile, wearables and Internet devices. We’re excited to back an exceptional team and to help them quickly scale this opportunity.”
The company’s roots go back to the University of Michigan, where Scott Hanson was a graduate fellow at the school’s engineering school and worked with two professors to develop Ambiq Micro’s design methodology.
Hanson spun the company out of the university in 2010 and moved it to Austin because of the availability of chip engineering talent here. He is now the company’s chief technology officer and vice president of engineering.
The University of Michigan owns a small slice of the company in return for its exclusive license for several inventions that formed the basis for the methodology, known as SPOT.
Ambiq Micro said it will use the new funding to accelerate development and marketing, and it is planning a hiring push.
It currently has 20 employees and plans to add more than 50 people over the next year. It is currently hiring digital and analog design engineers, application engineers and in sales.