Monthly Archives: October 2016


Mentor Graphics Acquires Galaxy Semiconductor

Mentor Graphics Corporation today announced that it has acquired Galaxy Semiconductor, a leading provider of test data analysis and defect reduction software for the semiconductor industry. With this acquisition, more design, test, and product engineers will now have access to Galaxy’s powerful solutions for maximizing device yields, improving test quality, reducing DPM (defects per million), and enhancing device characterization efforts.

“The acquisition of Galaxy Semiconductor provides a significant opportunity for Mentor to expand the breadth of our overall design-to-silicon product offering,” said Joe Sawicki, vice president and general manager of Mentor Graphics Design-to-Silicon Division. “The combination of Mentor’s Tessent® silicon test products along with Galaxy’s test data analysis products provides the industry with end-to-end solutions that span all aspects of design-for-test, device characterization, yield ramp, and cost-optimized high-quality manufacturing test.”


“The Galaxy team is excited to be a part of Mentor, an EDA industry leader with best-in-class products in design-for-test, design-for-manufacturing and automotive electronics design — all of which are highly complementary to Galaxy’s product line,” said Bertrand Renaud, former chief operating officer for Galaxy Semiconductor. “Through the acquisition, Mentor will be able to expand Galaxy’s worldwide sales and support and accelerate the next-generation solutions, which will provide even greater value to customers.”




About MentorGraphics
Mentor Graphics Corporation is a world leader in electronic hardware and software design solutions, providing products, consulting services and award-winning support for the world’s most successful electronic, semiconductor and systems companies.Established in 1981, the company reported revenues in the last fiscal year of approximately $1.18 billion. Corporate headquarters are located at 8005 S.W. Boeckman Road, Wilsonville, Oregon 97070-7777. World Wide Web site: Graphics, Mentor, and Tessent are registered trademarks of Mentor Graphics Corporation. All other company or product names are the registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective owners.)



Investment: Aura Semiconductor raises Series A funding

Aura Semiconductor, a provider of high performance analog mixed signal solutions, today announced that it has completed Series A round of equity investment from Bay Area based WRV Capital.


Aura has innovative semiconductor technology related to the Internet of Things (IoT) Radios, Timing and Portable Audio markets. Aura’s products bring significant differentiation with emphasis on high performance, low area and reduced power consumption.


“We have developed state of the art solutions across multiple verticals that are sampling with customers worldwide,” said Srinath Sridharan, CEO of Aura. “We stand to benefit immensely from WRV’s unmatched semiconductor sector knowledge and relationships to accelerate our growth.”


“We are excited to support Aura in all their product verticals,” said Lip-Bu Tan, Founder Partner of WRV Capital. “Their accomplished management team is tackling compelling market opportunities, with differentiated products that have clear benefits to end customers. We look forward to helping them scale globally.”


About WRV Capital

WRV Capital is a venture capital firm focusing primarily on early stage investments in hardware, semiconductor and other technology-related companies. It seeks to invest globally in core technology companies. WRV Capital was co-founded by Nicholas Brathwaite, Michael Marks, and Lip-Bu Tan. The firm is headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA.


About Aura Semiconductor

Aura is a fabless semiconductor company providing high-performance solutions in IoT Radios, Timing and Portable Audio markets. Aura was founded in 2010 by engineers with extensive global semiconductor product development experience, and is located in Bangalore, India. The products designed with Aura’s core technology and IP are currently sampling with customers worldwide.




What is RISC-V? Why do we care and why you should too!

I’d like to start by talking about the biggest misconception regarding RISC-V. Many of you who have heard about RISC-V likely believe it is an open-source processor … but it is not.


So what is it?

RISC-V is an open specification of an Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). That is, it describes the way in which software talks to an underlying processor – just like the x86 ISA for Intel/AMD processors and the ARMv8 ISA for the latest and greatest ARM processors. Unlike those however, the RISC-V ISA is open so that anyone can build a processor that supports it.


What’s the big deal?

RISC-V EcosystemFor companies supplying products to customers, lock-in is a wonderful thing. It means that once the vendor has the customer it is very hard for the customer to change to a competitor’s product. The best way to create lock-in is to have good-enough products and a rich ecosystem. That way, once you have the customer, they have invested too much into the implementation and you have them locked-in for a very long time. Any new competitor must have a better product, but also build an equivalent ecosystem. Even then it will be almost impossible for a customer to do apples-to-apples comparison based on the merits of the solution.


Just like the old saying that no one ever got fired for buying IBM, these days it is accepted that no-one ever gets fired for using ARM processors. There is a dark side to this however. If companies are not able to compete on the merit of their solutions, progress stagnates. Companies invest just enough to keep customers happy – no more, no less.


RISC-V changes this dynamic since a single software ecosystem built on the RISC-V standard supports many different processor vendors, and the processor vendors must now compete on the merit of their product for different applications. Customers don’t need to settle for good-enough, and competition will mean a significant acceleration of innovation in embedded processors. Also, without the need for each new processor startup to build an expensive ecosystem, many new innovative processor companies will appear.


What’s the downside?

For customers there is none. For processor IP companies, good-enough is no longer enough. Vendors like Codasip will have to ensure we are meeting and exceeding the customer’s needs and supplying the best possible solution, or they can easily move to a new supplier. Some analysts believe RISC-V will lead to commoditization of the processor IP, however, I believe it will lead to specialization and innovation. It will not be a race to the bottom, but rather an opportunity to supply additional value to customers and users.


How does Open-Source fit into this?

Thanks to the work of a number of academic institutions – especially UC-Berkley, the original creators of the RISC-V specification – there are a number of free open-source implementations of the RISC-V ISA. These open source implementations are already allowing various academic and open source SoC projects to do work that would have been impossible without an open standard. More importantly, however, commercial companies are free to create their own implementation of RISC-V processors. This gives customers an even greater range of options.


How does RISC-V fit with Codasip and application optimized processors?

RISC-V is a layered and extensible ISA which means a processor can implement the minimal instruction set, well defined extensions, and custom extensions for a given application. As long as the minimal set needed for a given application is implemented, that application will run on any compatible processor.

This removes one of the biggest barriers for application optimized processors, the effort required to develop the ancillary software around the processor. As such, up until now, most ASIPs (Application Specific Instruction-set Processors) have been used in deeply embedded environment where the software environment was limited, and well defined. Having a common software ecosystem means customers will now be free to add application extensions to any processor, being able to take advantage of the significant improvements they provide, without the downside.


Who maintains the standard?

The standard is maintained by the RISC-V foundation (, with foundation members (including Codasip) coming from across the industry including software, systems, semiconductor and IP. The focus of member companies is on building a rich ecosystem of hardware and software that will rival or surpass that of companies like ARM.


So what happens next?

Unfortunately I don’t have a magic crystal ball, but after many years in the semiconductor industry, what I can say is that I have never before seen so much interest in a new standard, and such a diverse set of companies working together to make it a reality – including processor IP competitors all targeting the same specification.

I expect that we will see an explosion of innovation and growth, very similar to what happened in the enterprise software space once people were able to build on common open standards.


As they say – A rising tide lifts all boats. It will be an exciting few years and I can’t wait to see the results.





This is a guest blog by Codasip which is a start up company focused on redefining embedded processing for the IoT era through groundbreaking IP and automation technology.


NXP has agreed to be acquired by Qualcomm for $47B

SAN DIEGO, and EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands, Oct. 27, 2016 — Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) and NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) today announced a definitive agreement, unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, under which Qualcomm will acquire NXP.  Pursuant to the agreement, a subsidiary of Qualcomm will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of NXP for $110.00 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $47 billion.


NXP is a leader in high-performance, mixed-signal semiconductor electronics, with innovative products and solutions and leadership positions in automotive, broad-based microcontrollers, secure identification, network processing and RF power.  As a leading semiconductor solutions supplier to the automotive industry, NXP also has leading positions in automotive infotainment, networking and safety systems, with solutions designed into 14 of the top 15 infotainment customers in 2016.  NXP has a broad customer base, serving more than 25,000 customers through its direct sales channel and global network of distribution channel partners.


“With innovation and invention at our core, Qualcomm has played a critical role in driving the evolution of the mobile industry.  The NXP acquisition accelerates our strategy to extend our leading mobile technology into robust new opportunities, where we will be well positioned to lead by delivering integrated semiconductor solutions at scale,” said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated.  “By joining Qualcomm’s leading SoC capabilities and technology roadmap with NXP’s leading industry sales channels and positions in automotive, security and IoT, we will be even better positioned to empower customers and consumers to realize all the benefits of the intelligently connected world.”


The combined company is expected to have annual revenues of more than $30 billion, serviceable addressable markets of $138 billion in 2020 and leadership positions across mobile, automotive, IoT, security, RF and networking.  The transaction has substantial strategic and financial benefits:


  • Complementary technology leadership in strategically important areas: The transaction combines leadership in general purpose and automotive grade processing, security, automotive safety sensors and RF; enabling more complete system solutions.
    • Mobile: A leader in mobile SoCs, 3G/4G modems and security.
    • Automotive: A leader in global automotive semiconductors, including ADAS, infotainment, safety systems, body and networking, powertrain and chassis, secure access, telematics and connectivity.
    • IoT and Security: A leader in broad-based microcontrollers, secure identification, mobile transactions, payment cards and transit; strength in application processors and connectivity systems.
    • Networking: A leader in network processors for wired and wireless communications and RF sub-segments, Wave-2 11ac/11ad, RF power and BTS systems.
  • Enhanced go-to-market capabilities to serve our customers:  The combination of Qualcomm’s and NXP’s deep customer and ecosystem relationships and distribution channels enables the ability to deliver leading products and platforms at scale in mobile, automotive, IoT, industrial, security and networking.
  • Shared track record of innovation and commitment to operational discipline: Both companies have demonstrated a strong commitment to technology leadership and best-in-class product portfolios with focused investments in R&D.  Qualcomm and NXP have both taken action to position themselves for profitable growth, while maintaining financial and operational discipline. 
  • Substantial financial benefits: Qualcomm expects the transaction to be significantly accretive to non-GAAP EPS immediately upon close.  Qualcomm expects to generate $500 million of annualized run-rate cost synergies within two years after the transaction closes.  The transaction utilizes Qualcomm’s strong balance sheet and will be efficiently financed with offshore cash and new debt. The transaction structure allows tax efficient use of offshore cash flow and enables Qualcomm to reduce leverage rapidly.


Mollenkopf continued, “We have taken significant action to build a foundation for profitable growth and the acquisition of NXP is strongly aligned with our strategy.  Our companies both have substantial expertise in delivering industry-leading solutions to our global customers, built upon a shared commitment to technology innovation, focused R&D investments and strong financial and operational discipline.”


“The combination of Qualcomm and NXP will bring together all technologies required to realize our vision of secure connections for the smarter world, combining advanced computing and ubiquitous connectivity with security and high performance mixed-signal solutions including microcontrollers. Jointly we will be able to provide more complete solutions which will allow us to further enhance our leadership positions, and expand the already strong partnerships with our broad customer base, especially in automotive, consumer and industrial IoT and device level security,” said Rick Clemmer, NXP Chief Executive Officer. “United in a common strategy, the complementary nature of our technologies and the scale of our portfolios will give us the ability to drive an accelerated level of innovation and value for the whole ecosystem. Such a strong fit will bring opportunities for our employees and customers, as well as provide immediate attractive value for our shareholders, in creating the semiconductor industry powerhouse.”


Sir Peter Bonfield, Chairman of NXP’s Board of Directors, said, “This is a major step in my ten years’ Chairmanship of NXP, and I am very pleased to see that the board of NXP has unanimously approved the proposed transaction and fully supports and recommends the offer for acceptance to NXP shareholders.”



Transaction Details 

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, a subsidiary of Qualcomm will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of NXP for $110.00 per share in cash.


Qualcomm intends to fund the transaction with cash on hand and new debt.  The transaction is structured to enable tax efficient use of offshore cash flow to rapidly reduce leverage.  Qualcomm is committed to maintaining its strong investment-grade credit ratings.


The solid combined cash flow profile will support Qualcomm’s current dividend and dividend growth.  Qualcomm is committed to anti-dilutive repurchases of its common stock as it de-levers its balance sheet to pre-transaction leverage levels. The pro forma cash flow profile provides a strong foundation for long-term capital returns to stockholders.


The tender offer is not subject to any financing condition.  The transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar 2017 and is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals in various jurisdictions and other closing conditions.  The tender offer is conditioned on the tender of at least 95% of the outstanding ordinary shares of NXP or, if NXP shareholders approve the asset sale contemplated in the purchase agreement, the tender of at least 80% of the outstanding ordinary shares of NXP.  An Extraordinary General Meeting of NXP’s shareholders will be convened in connection with the offer to adopt, among other things, certain resolutions relating to the transaction.


The offer will be described in more detail in a tender offer statement on Schedule TO to be filed by a subsidiary of Qualcomm and a solicitation/recommendation statement on Schedule 14D-9 to be filed by NXP.


Goldman Sachs & Co. and Evercore served as financial advisors to Qualcomm and provided fairness opinions to the Qualcomm Board.  Goldman Sachs & Co. and J.P. Morgan are providing committed debt financing for the transaction.  Centerview Partners LLC served as financial advisor and provided a fairness opinion to the Qualcomm Board.  Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Allen & Overy LLP served as legal counsel to Qualcomm.  DLA Piper LLP (US) served as legal counsel to the Qualcomm Board.


Qatalyst Partners is acting as lead financial advisor to NXP, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek are serving as legal counsel to NXP. Barclays and Credit Suisse are also acting as financial advisor to NXP.



About Qualcomm
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is a world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm’s licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm’s engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, QCT. For more than 30 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm’s website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.




About NXP
NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) enables secure connections and infrastructure for a smarter world, advancing solutions that make lives easier, better and safer. As the world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, NXP is driving innovation in the secure connected vehicle, end-to-end security & privacy and smart connected solutions markets. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has 44,000 employees in more than 35 countries and posted revenue of $6.1 billion in 2015. Find out more at


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Austria’s ams acquires Heptagon become a worldwide leader in optical sensing

Premstaetten, Austria (24 October 2016) – ams (SIX: AMS), a leading worldwide manufacturer of high performance sensor and analog solutions, has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in Heptagon, the worldwide leader in high performance optical packaging and micro-optics. With this transaction, ams becomes the clear global leader in optical sensing technologies anticipating industry and technology trends to drive growth in new applications. ams also reports third quarter 2016 revenues and operating profitability around the mid-point of expectations in a more positive consumer market when excluding divestiture and exchange rate effects. ams expects a muted fourth quarter 2016 due to customer-specific, product line yield and non-consumer end market effects with revenues of EUR 127-134 million at a sequentially lower operating margin.

Heptagon is a global leader in micro-optics and optical sensing solutions with particular expertise in high performance optical packaging where the company is positioned as innovation leader. Leveraging advanced optics capabilities in combination with a strong optical design team, Heptagon has built a leading market position as provider of world-class integration and high value packaging solutions in optical sensing.Currently focused on the consumer market, Heptagon is a major supplier into applications for mobile devices requiring high volume optical packaging at very small form factors. Leveraging its advanced technology, Heptagon sees excellent growth opportunities with its current customer base which includes a key customer serving the smartphone and mobile device markets.

Heptagon’s headquarters and manufacturing are based in Singapore while its R&D center is in Rueschlikon, Switzerland. The company has over 830 employees including around 120 engineers and 500 manufacturing staff. Heptagon commands a very strong and protected IP portfolio, primarily in optical packaging, including more than 250 patent families.Heptagon’s current 12 month revenue run rate is around USD 90m at negative operating profitability due to current underutilization of production capacity. Heptagon expects substantial revenue growth over the coming years starting mid-year 2017, based on its existing revenue and capacity pipeline and customer commitments. To prepare for this expected growth, Heptagon has already embarked on a major expansion of its Singapore manufacturing capacity with a total capital investment of more than USD 250m in 2016/2017.

Businessman pressing virtual icons


The expansion is based on a confirmed customer commitment for usage of the additional capacity and is fully funded from existing cash in the business, requiring no funding by ams.The transaction combines an upfront consideration in cash and shares with a substantial deferred earn-out consideration. The upfront consideration includes USD 64m in cash from available funds, a capital increase of 15% of outstanding shares from authorized capital (excluding subscription rights) and shares from currently held treasury shares for a total value of the upfront consideration of approx. USD 570m. The earn-out consideration will be contingent on future results of Heptagon’s business over fiscal year 2017 with a potential maximum value of USD 285m. Following the upfront share transaction, current Heptagon shareholders which include financial investors, management, and employees are expected to hold around 20% in ams. The transaction is expected to close within the next three months subject to certain approvals and the occurrence of certain conditions defined in the agreements with the sellers. ams plans to integrate Heptagon into its organization following the closing.The combination of ams and Heptagon forms the clear worldwide leader in end-to-end optical sensing solutions with global scale and the ability to define and drive technology trends and innovation.

Given the increasing value-add of high end packaging technologies for upcoming optical sensor applications the transaction fully leverages ams’ and Heptagon’s outstanding know-how in optical design and manufacturing. ams is convinced that this end-to-end solution capability will allow it to better serve customers in high value optical applications. Adding Heptagon also accelerates the expansion of ams’ capabilities in sensor fusion and sensor hubs. ams’ market access in the consumer and smartphone space is expected to support Heptagon’s customer relationships and broaden its customer base for the combined company’s sensor solutions.Through the addition of Heptagon ams expects to increase and accelerate its mid-term growth opportunities, particularly in consumer optical sensing. Including Heptagon, ams therefore targets business growth of 30% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for the coming three years combined with a profitability target of 30% operating (EBIT) margin from 2019. Substantial expected ams content increases in the smartphone and mobile device space will serve as important drivers of this expected growth.

Alexander Everke, CEO of ams, commented on the transaction, “Combining ams and Heptagon creates the clear #1 in optical sensing technologies and fast-tracks our innovation capabilities. As a result, we expect ams to drive the optical sensing agenda in the years to come and broaden its market reach. Together with our leadership position in our other sensing focus areas Environmental, Imaging, and Audio, this strategic transaction is going to transform ams into the global leader in sensor solutions.”


Hisense selects their SoC Fabric IP for IoT from Dolphin Integration

Launching any SoC on a highly competitive market demands a differentiation for which Hisense was searching for an ultra low-power solution to extend battery life-time of wireless-connected devices. Designing such an integrated circuit introduces new challenges: silicon area, power consumption and BoM cost must be aggressively reduced, while dealing with noise issues in a mixed-signal SoC embedding multiple power domains with diverse power modes.


Dolphin Integration’s SoC Fabric IP offering covers the SoC networks of clocks and regulated voltages, for a SoC designed with power domains, to deal with these new challenges.


When we first discovered Dolphin Integration, we had in mind to acquire some vital Silicon IPs. Their intensive pre-sales support made us realize that they could provide us with a complete set of SoC Fabric IPs together with the transfer of know-how for implementing safely our low-power SoC.” explained Shawn Zhong, CEO of Hisense Microelectronics.


Dolphin Integration’s SoC Fabric firstly stars their library of voltage regulators, compliant with the 8 rules of DELTA to enable mix-and-match from diverse regulator suppliers. Their second contribution automatically manages the in-rush current to share a regulator between multi-mode power domains with their patented “Transition Ramp Controllers”. The third innovation was needed to build fast and safely the Activity Control Unit of a SoC with multi-mode power domains, thanks to a kit of modules in the always-on domain.


We are pleased to announce Hisense as a licensee for our SoC Fabric IPs” said Frédéric Renoux, Sales Director at Dolphin Integration. “For their foundry partner and for Hisense themselves, our innovative and silicon-proven SoC Fabric reduces the Time-to-Market of leading edge and robust low-power SoCs at TSMC 55 nm uLP/uLPeF”.


For both the foundry and the IP provider, proving on silicon a SoC Fabric required the block-busting innovation of a Demochip: code-named TaiShan, it provides IP Compatibility Insurance (IPCI) for an assembly of Silicon IP in dynamic interplay while proving the robustness of such SoC Fabric IPs.


I want more information about these offering


About HiSense


Hisense Microelectronics is committed to bringing its customers semiconductor solutions that can differentiate their end products with rich features so that they can build and grow successful businesses today and in the future. It designs, develops, and supplies a range of semiconductor solutions that comprise advanced image processing, human machine interaction and IoT connectivity. Applications for the products include the following end markets: smart TVs, new display terminals such as ultra short-throw laser projection TVs and medical displays, and smart home appliances.


About Dolphin Integration


Dolphin Integration contributes to “enabling low-power Systems-on-Chip” for worldwide customers – up to the major actors of the semiconductor industry – with high-density Silicon IP components best at low-power consumption.

“Foundation IPs” includes innovative libraries of standard cells, register files and memory generators as well as an ultra-low power cache controller. “Fabric IPs” of voltage regulators, Power Island Construction Kit and their control network MAESTRO enable to safely implement low-power SoCs with the smallest silicon area. They also star the “Feature IP”: from ultra-low power Voice Activity Detector with high-resolution converters for audio and measurement applications to power-optimized 8 or 16 and 32 bit micro-controllers.


Over 30 years of experience in the integration of silicon IP components, providing services for ASIC/SoC design and fabrication, with its own EDA solutions, make Dolphin Integration a genuine one-stop shop addressing all customers’ needs for specific requests.

It is not just one more supplier of Technology, but the provider of the Dolphin Integration know-how!