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VCs Plant More Money Into Sequoia

Sequoia Communications, a Rancho Bernardo company that makes semiconductors for wireless devices, has closed its Series D financing round, securing $15 million from five sources.

Gabriel Venture Partners of Redwood Shores led the round. Also participating were four previous investors: Nokia Venture Partners of Menlo Park, Tallwood Venture Capital of Palo Alto, Huntington Ventures of Irvine and Cadence Design Systems. Cadence is a $1.1 billion company from San Jose specializing in the automated design of semiconductors.

Sequoia specializes in radio-frequency transceiver chips and combines circuitry for two wireless standards on a single chip. Such chips are called “multi-mode” devices. Samples of the company’s first product will be available in the second quarter, said Dave Shepard, the company’s chief executive.

Initially, Shepard said, Sequoia chips will combine two voice standards, such as GSM and W-CDMA. As time goes on, he said, the company will add data-communication standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or global positioning system to the mix.

Sequoia employs 31 people in San Diego. It plans to use the new funds to roll out products and expand sales, marketing and business development overseas. With the new cash infusion, the company is funded into 2006.

As a so-called “fabless” company, Sequoia has another company actually manufacture the chips.

Tim Chang, principal and wireless sector lead at Gabriel Venture Partners, has joined the company’s board of directors.

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Three Modes And 65,536 Colors:

Here’s an unrelated news item that crossed my desk, but it nicely illustrates the concept of a multi-mode phone.

Wireless carrier Sprint will distribute the new PM325 model from LG Mobile Phones. The phone operates on two digital Code Division Multiple Access voice networks in two parts of the radio spectrum , at 1.9 gigahertz and 800 megahertz , as well as on the 800-megahertz analog voice network. That makes it a tri-mode device.

Though it works on analog networks, the phone is no holdover from the ’90s. Features include a camera with an eight-power digital zoom, a 65,536-color screen and a wireless Bluetooth connection to a headset. Suggested retail price is $230. People who sign up for the rebate and a two-year service agreement with Sprint can get the phone for $80.

LG Mobile Phones is a South Korean company that has its U.S. office in San Diego. Sprint has its headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.

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Seeing The Future:

Sunnyvale computer chip-maker AMD hosted 50 computer system builders last week at the La Jolla Marriott. There, it showed off the capabilities of its advanced 64-bit Athlon chips. Hands-on displays included extra-detailed video games. Microsoft is out with trial software for 64-bit-equipped personal computers.

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