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Quellan Raises $20M, Eyes Storage Market

Startup says copper transmission connector is used by key storage suppliers

Chip manufacturer Quellan has raised $20 million in Series C funding as the firm looks to crank up its storage interconnect business, touting a copper-based alternative to fiber optic cabling.

The round, which was led by cabling vendor (and Gore-Tex manufacturer) W.L. Gore & Associates, also included Harbinger Venture Management, MiTAC, and Glynn Capital Management. Although Quellan CEO Tony Stelliga would not reveal the startup's total funding, he told Byte and Switch that this figure is "somewhere north of" $40 million.

Quellan, which was founded in 2002, started out developing chips to boost the signal quality on consumer products such as headphones and cellphones. Last year the startup got into the data center business, unveiling a cable connector built around its Q:Active chip, which aims to boost the performance of data transferred over copper cables.

Distance is a key part of Quellan's data center spiel. Although more expensive than copper, the low latency nature of fiber optic cabling means that it can be used over longer distances. Copper cabling, for instance, is limited to deployments of six or seven feet in many supercomputing deployments, according to Stelliga, although he claims that Quellan's Q:Active connector resolves this issue.

"We allow our customers to run data over the same distance that they would on fiber optic cables, but on copper," he says, explaining that the firm uses cables from its partner and investor W.L. Gore with its connector technology.

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