The Peregrine story, as the founders of RF SOI, is a compelling, American business story with roots in the high-tech defense sector of the 1980s and the competitive, entrepreneurial environment of the 1990s. Take a moment and flip through the Peregrine history book.
The Peregrine Semiconductor story is about many things. It is about a willingness to take risks, diligence, innovation, hard work and the nurturing of strong partnerships. It is the story of the founders’ ability to look forward and understand what would be important tomorrow—the ability to “read the tea leaves,” if you will. It is the success story of a semiconductor company that accomplished what the industry thought was impossible, and that now leads the market today as a communications company.
During the 1970s a battle was waged between analog and digital to determine the optimum method of electric signal distribution of information. Digital won in 1975 and took over everything through the '70s, '80s and '90s, driving a literal digital revolution. Computing power followed Moore’s Law—named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore—which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years driving exponential improvement in performance. The digital revolution drove digital electronics into nearly every segment of the world economy. The semiconductor market on its own is relatively small, but the markets it drives are immense. Today, global semiconductor industry revenues exceed $300 billion annually, but it is the semiconductors’ capabilities that drive the global trillion dollar electronics industry. In the US alone, the semiconductor industry, one of the country’s top exports, directly employs nearly 250,000 people, and the industry supports more than one million additional jobs.
In the late '70s, Peregrine’s founders began diligently solving the technical challenges and overcoming the barriers required to make advanced silicon on insulator (SOI) commercially feasible. Their research initially focused on a sapphire substrate, known by the industry as silicon on sapphire (SOS). SOS, in spite of showing great promise, was demonstrating manufacturing problems that had led the other semiconductor companies to abandon further development of the sapphire substrate. While the rest of the industry deemed it impossible, the founders persisted, and, after years of research and development, the “aha moment” came. In 1988, Peregrine founders Ron Reedy and Mark Burgener and colleague Graham Garcia published a research paper that would serve as the foundation for Peregrine’s UltraCMOS® technology, a patented advanced form of SOI.
Peregrine’s strength in sapphire substrates offered a clear advantage. Sapphire did not interfere with RF signals. With radios driving the advancement of wireless communications, Peregrine’s continuing development of the UltraCMOS technology was evolving to address the critical integration requirements for communications device development.
Today, Peregrine’s technology provides critical communication pathways for devices used around the globe and beyond, from the iPhone to the Mars Rover. Peregrine chips have traveled to every planet except Uranus. Handheld devices daily deliver conversations and critical data using a Peregrine chip. The critical communications channels used by our first responders and military rely on the performance of Peregrine’s chips in their devices and networks.