CopperGate Communication was founded in 2000 to develop chipsets for home networking over existing telephone lines, implementing the HomePNA standard. Since its founding in 2000, CopperGate has raised $6.3 million in Seed and A rounds. CopperGate’s leading investors include Tamir Fishman Ventures, The Challenge Fund - Etgar and Technoplus. Additional capital will be sought in the future. The company has 22 employees.
The first version of the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA) standard, HPNA 1, operates at 1 Mbps. The more recent specification, HPNA 2, operates at 10-20 Mbps. The evolving HPNA 3 standard will support data rates of up to 128 Mbps with QoS support. CopperGate is focused on providing third generation HPNA 3 chipsets.
The joint HomePNA 3.0 proposal from Broadcom and CopperGate delivers a rate of up to 128 Mbps, with optional extensions reaching up to 240 Mbps. It also features a synchronous MAC protocol layer, which is essential for multimedia applications. The Voice-over-HomePNA protocol, which extends HomePNA 2.0 by enabling eight simultaneous voice streams within the home, will also be supported by version 3.0. The HomePNA 3.0 specification is in its final stages of completion and will be ratified by the BoD of the HomePNA shortly.
CopperGate’s solution is based on the HPNA 3 specification, and is backward compatible with the previous generation of HPNA modems. The company plans to introduce a HPNA 3 chipset that integrates PHY, MAC and Link Layer support. The chipset provides high transmission performance over existing copper wires, overcoming the physical constraints and topologies of residential environments.
The CG3011/CG3012 HPNA 3 modem chipset consists of a digital ASIC and an analog front end (AFE). The CG 3012 digital ASIC integrates the MAC, PHY and a variety of interfaces, combined with a protocol convergence layer, for bridging between WAN (ADSL, cable modem, etc.) and LANs. The CG3012 AFE includes the DACs and ADCs as well as signal conditioning shaping filters.
The chipset supports bit rates of up to 128 Mbps, robust operation in a large variety of home wiring topologies, and fast adaptation to changes in line characteristics. QoS features include constant, variable and average bit rate transmissions, with support for multiple simultaneous services. It supports multiple streaming audio and video channels, both isochronous and asynchronous data services, toll-quality voice channels, and the VoHPNA Telephony Protocol.
Currenty, HomePNA 2.0 chipsets are sold by Broadcom (acquired HPNA 2 startup Epigram in 1999), Conexant, Agere and ESS. These companies, and probably others, will most likely develop HomePNA 3.0 products as well. Althought HomePNA is an open standard, CopperGate said that companies that want to develop HomePNA 3 chipsets must obtain licenses for the essential IP in the standard (in the HomePNA 3 case from Broadcom and CopperGate).
CopperGate believes it will be the first company to introduce HomePNA 3.0 chipsets and the first company with certified HomePNA 3.0 chipsets. Its chipsets feature a proprietary DSP computing engine architecture, which enables a silicon efficient low power implementation of the HomePNA 3.0 modem. The company has also developed unique IP in the area of bandwidth management.
Of course, competing LAN technologies, such as wireless and HomePlug represent competition as well. Although we are wireless LAN fans, CopperGate claims that HomePNA is the preferred home networking technology for many broadband service providers. BellSouth, SBC, Time Warner Cable, EarthLink, and Verizon Online offer HomePNA-based residential gateways and network adaptors. Based on the service providers’ and their customers’ preference, CopperGate believes that HomePNA will continue to have a significant market share in the residential market (compared to WiFi). Certainly, the fixed high data rate and QoS support for multimedia streaming are advantages.
According to CopperGate, statistical tests performed by service providers could not achieve an average network data rate higher than 1 Mbps for HomePlug-based LANs. And effective data rates achieved with 802.11a fall to a few Mbps when trying to reach network nodes located a few tens of feet away from the access point, or behind walls. 802.11b/g may be more robust, however they have lower data rates and fall into that ugly, crowded 2.4GHz band. CopperGate said that for service providers, the number of service calls from residential users buying WiFi home networking equipment is far higher than that coming from HPNA households. And CopperGate dismissed our question regarding the ubiquity of phone jacks as not a concern.
Many early HomePNA products (including HPNA 2) were integrated with dial-up modems. However, today, HomePNA chips are sold into the residential gateway market for broadband services as well as many other diverse applications. D-Link, Farallon, Linksys, NetGear, and Zoom offer HomePNA NICs and USB adapters. AudioRamp and SONICblue offer Internet appliances with HomePNA interfaces. Numerous broadband residential gateway and set-top boxes vendors, including 2Wire, HP, Motorola, Alcatel, Broadband Gateways, Linksys, Netgear, Panasonic, ShareGate, SOHOware, Ucentric, Pioneer, and WaiLAN offer HomePNA interfaces on their products. And high-end audio system product from SONICblue, Kenwood, Pioneer, and Rio also support HomePNA.
HPNA 3 has an even more robust modem than HPNA 2, with plenty of speed, and QoS provisioning for video, audio and toll quality telephony applications. According to CopperGate, because of the low/no cost differential between HPNA 2 and 3, and backwards compatibility with HPNA 2, HPNA 3 should replace HPNA 2 in all existing (and future) home networking applications.
CopperGate has signed an agreement with one of the largest independent wafer foundries and chipset samples are expected in early 2003. CopperGate intends to release future products that will include the basic HPNA V3 engine with integrated additional functionality. The company has already signed OEM agreements.
Gabi Hilevitz, CEO (Previously GM of DSPC Technologies, which was acquired by Intel in 1999. Most recently, he co-managed Intel’s CCD design engineering)
David Thomasson, VP Marketing (previously Director of Product Marketing with Seiko Instruments USA)
Israel Lifshitz, Co-founder and Director of VLSI and Hardware Design (previously a system engineer at Orckit)
David Baum, Co-founder and Director of Algorithm Design (previously a DSP engineer in the VDSL and ADSL projects at Orckit)
Ron Sterenson, Director of Software Design (previously responsible for the software development of BreezeCOM’s LMDS system)
Oren Mansour, Director of Business Development (previously held a variety of development, development management and business development positions at Motorola Communication)
Zuri Guzikevitch, VP of R&D (previously Associate VP at ECI Telecom, where he managed Broadband xDSL R&D)
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