Siliquent Secures $10M for 10-Gig Silicon

Yet another SAN chip startup gets funding; says focus on 10-gig IP silicon sets it apart

November 1, 2001

2 Min Read
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Stealthy startup Siliquent Technologies Ltd. has raised $10 million in a first round of funding from Benchmark Capital and Greylock to develop a storage network processor. It joins an increasingly large pool of chip startups targeting this market (see Siliquent Scores $10 Million).

Based in Tel Aviv, Siliquent was officially founded in October 2000 by Amit Oren and Dan Arazi, previously the top brass at Orckit Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: ORCT), an Israeli DSL chip and modem company.

Siliquent admits its not the first to get funding in this space. Aarohi Inc., Netoctave Inc., Playtis, (acquired by Adaptec Inc. [Nasdaq: ADPT]), Silverback Systems Inc., and Trebia Networks Inc. have all garnered top-tier VC funding and are well on their way to developing processors for the SAN market.

Still, Siliquent argues that it has an important differentiating feature: ”We are developing a 10-Gbit/s iSCSI chip,” says Arazi. Other vendors in this space are working on 1-Gbit/s chips, although they plan to implement 10-Gbit/s technology in the future.

It's a bold move, with a big potential payoff. Widespread availability of 10-Gbit/s iSCSI (SCSI over IP) silicon is considered to be essential before IP switches and storage devices can displace Fibre Channel in data centers. On the other hand, Siliquent is early -- really early -- to the 10-gig game. Standards for iSCSI are still under development, which means that Siliquent could well get caught out and have to change its products as it goes along, in response to changes in the specs.Siliquent says it will get around this problem, for now, using a combination of programmable components and hard-wired ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits). Later, once the standard is complete, it plans to move the whole shooting match into silicon.

Siliquent’s founders say they have the experience to deliver the goods. ”The issues of port density (or getting multiple ports on a single chip), physical space shortages and power limitations in the storage equipment world are the same challenges we faced in designing DSLAM chips,” says Arazi. “At the end of the day it’s a networking problem, which we understand.”

Siliquent has certainly done enough to convince Benchmark and Greylock that it is onto something unique. "New investments are carefully scrutinized nowadays" says Charles Chi, general partner of Greylock. "We believe Siliquent's ability to combine expertise such as ASIC technology, networking, and storage to be a promising combination."

Siliquent’s chips will be generally available in late 2002, the company claims. Its target market is all the major storage array vendors -- EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and anyone else developing iSCSI-based switching devices.

The company has 20 on staff and is recruiting across the board, while also looking for premises in the U.S.— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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