Former IBM-ers Launch Tahoe RF Semiconductor

Fed up with the Silicon Valley scene, seven guys who used to work at IBM in the Microelectronics’ Wireless Division have headed to the hills to start their own RF design company, Tahoe RF Semiconductor, Inc.

Located in the Sierra Foothills near Lake Tahoe in Northern California, the company specializes in front-end circuit design and simulation all the way to back-end layout, DRC/LVS, post-layout simulation and fully packaged fabrication management using Cadence software.

Led by company president Irshad Rasheed and Vice President of Engineering Christopher Saint, Tahoe is currently self-funded, but Saint told the company is actively negotiating some contracts including one from a well-known IP provider.

“Forming Tahoe RF Semiconductor allows us to use our extensive analog and RFIC experience in the same team setting that led the way at IBM,” said Saint, who has also authored two best-selling IC layout books.

The team has been together in one-way shape or form for six years, going through several companies including Mosaic Microsystems, ComQuest and Mobilian.

“As IBM reassessed its needs for in-house wireless design expertise, our primary focus was to keep this team together,” Saint said.

The team also has a good track record and has designed, laid out and successfully fabricated many products, including an entire WCDMA wireless chipset with analog baseband filters, 2GHz direct down conversion receiver, dual transmit/receive WCDMA PLL/synthesizers, IF VGA circuits, RF VGA circuits, pseudo direct upconvert transmit chip, 2GHz quadrature generation and 4GHz VCO. Other recent projects include a JCDMA transmit/receive chipset with integrated frequency synthesizers, CMOS and ECL standard cell libraries, 8GHz RF divide by 4 and dual modulus dividers, and CDMA2000 IF downconverter.

“One of the things that differentiates us is that we are used to working remotely,” said Saint. “During one of our WCDMA chipset projects, we had to work together with about 150 engineers located in several areas including France and Boston.”

Saint said Tahoe is currently hiring, but despite the company’s close proximity to Olympic-class resorts, being a skier is not a pre-requisite.

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