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Reno Sub-Systems closes US$14 million Series B led by MKS Instruments

Reno Sub-Systems, Inc., a developer of technologies for semiconductors and advanced microelectronics formerly based in Halifax, has closed a US$14 million Series B round, led by Massachusetts-based instrument, subsystem and process control solution provider MKS Instruments, Inc., which contributed US$9.3 million to the total, with an assist from previously existing investors Intel Capital and an unnamed Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) equipment supplier.

“We are pleased that MKS has chosen to invest and collaborate with Reno,” said Reno CEO Bob MacKnight. “These funds will accelerate Reno’s time to market with technologies that are critical to advancing Moore’s Law and key semiconductor manufacturing processes. Our enhancements of the two most critical ingredients in a plasma process tool, radio frequency (RF) power & gas flow, enable new processes not previously attainable while at the same time increasing both yield and throughput.”

MacKnight has nearly 40 years experience working in the semiconductor field, with two of those years spent in flash based storage, and now concentrating on semiconductor subsystems.

Reno Sub-Systems has developed patented technologies which demonstrate the highest performance radio frequency (RF) matching networks, RF power generators and gas delivery systems for advanced nanoscale manufacturing processes.

Reno CEO Bob MacKnight’s comment about “advancing Moore’s law” has to do with finding new ways to advance semiconductor and microelectronics capacity, which appear to have plateaued in recent years, instead of doubling every two years as predicted by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore back in 1965.

“We were impressed by the technology being developed by Reno and were drawn to the opportunity to invest in a proven team of engineers and technologists, alongside two industry leaders in semiconductor process technology, to advance technology that could be an enabler in our core markets,” said MKS Instruments’ Chief Executive Officer and President, Gerald Colella. “We see exciting potential for Reno.”

Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the world’s largest chipmaker, participated in a US$7.5 million Series A round of investment in Reno Sub-Systems in November 2014.

This new investment arrives at a moment when Reno Sub-Systems appears ready to make the transition from technology and product development to overseeing high-volume adoption of its technology during the coming two years.

Generated by strong customer demand for its design, development and delivery of subsystems used for controlling process systems made by OEMs, including vacuum-based chambers for depositing and etching specialty materials needed in the advanced integrated circuit fabrication process, Reno appears ready to “move forward into the 450mm era”.

The long-threatened transition to larger 450mm wafers for electronics has never quite panned out until now, but may catch on if companies like Intel place bets on companies like Reno Sub-Systems with the ultimate goal of pushing Moore’s law forward.

Last July, Reno sold its vacuum products division to San Diego-based Ferran Technology, Inc., led by Reno’s ex-CEO David Ferran and his brother Robert, in an effort to refocus Reno’s business on accelerating the commercialization of its RF power, matching, and gas delivery systems technologies.
Reno Sub-Systems has technology development centres located in New Jersey, California and Nevada.

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