EdgeQ, a startup developing 5G systems-on-chip, today emerged from stealth with $51 million in funding. The 90-employee company says the fresh capital will accelerate its go-to-market efforts as it moves toward mass production of its chipset products.
With a team of semiconductor, 5G, Wi-Fi, and AI industry veterans hailing from Qualcomm, Intel, and Broadcom, EdgeQ is adopting a “software-driven” development model for OEMs and operators that supports private networking via cellular protocols including 5G (and also 4G). This model promises to decouple the infrastructure from expensive, closed, and inflexible systems to intelligent software layers running on off-the-shelf hardware.
The global edge computing market is anticipated to reach $43.4 billion by 2027, according to a 2020 report by Grand View Research. This rise in adoption will likely be driven by opportunities in multi-access edge computing, which allows companies to mitigate network congestion and ensure better app performance by bringing tasks and running apps closer to customers. Moreover, AI at the edge is projected to come into wider use due to an increase in the number of connected devices worldwide. In the future, edge AI paired with 5G is expected to enable real-time data creation, reducing power consumption and the costs for communications among wearable devices, self-driving cars, and more.
Vinay Ravuri, previously VP of product management at Qualcomm and CEO and founder of EdgeQ, acknowledges that EdgeQ is far from the only player in the 5G systems-on-chip space. Samsung, MediaTek, Huawei, and indeed Qualcomm offer a range of chipsets designed for devices from wearables to datacenters. But Ravuri asserts that what sets EdgeQ apart from the pack is its focus on a converged, software-programmable 5G and AI silicon platform for both devices and edge infrastructure.
Ravuri makes the case that purpose-built fixed devices scale poorly and inefficiently to support 5G and AI services and apps. “The current 5G ecosystem is extremely unhealthy, with limited chip set suppliers either concentrating in the consumer space (smartphones) or traditional network systems. This dichotomy has created a starvation for a 5G chip, purpose-built for the enterprises and dedicated to the network infrastructure space,” he told VentureBeat via email. “Future edge deployments will require trillions of edge devices to connect with one another. In addition, these devices will need to process data locally rather than sending it to the cloud and back for processing, which causes too much latency. By converging 5G and AI, EdgeQ will make it possible to connect these devices at massive scale and will provide the computing capabilities to process data locally.”
EdgeQ, which is headquartered in Santa Clara, California with offices in San Diego and Bangalore, India, plans to unveil its platform in the coming months to target verticals including manufacturing, construction, energy, automotive, warehousing, and surveillance. It claims to have customers that come from construction and financial services as well as telecommunications markets.
Threshold Ventures, Fusion Fund, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang, and an unannounced strategic customer contributed to the funding, which included a $38.5 million series A round. Ravuri declined to disclose EdgeQ’s valuation.