Analog IP offerings a hot commodity in semiconductor M&A

Article By : Majeed Ahmad

SEMIFIVE's purchase of Analog Bits shows the crucial importance of analog and mixed-signal building blocks in accelerating the SoC designs.

The acquisition of mixed-signal IP supplier Analog Bits by custom silicon solution provider SEMIFIVE once more underscores the critical importance of analog building blocks in system-on-chip (SoC) designs. Analog Bits, based in Sunnyvale, California, offers precision clocking macros such as PLLs and sensors, programmable interconnect solutions like multi-protocol SERDES and programmable I/Os, and specialized memories as such high-speed SRAMs and Ternary content-addressable memories (TCAMs).

Figure 1 The mixed-signal IPs from Analog Bits are taping out at 5 nm and are planned for 3 nm process nodes.

It has been snapped by SEMIFIVE, which provides SoC design services while leveraging configurable domain-specific architectures and pre-validated IP pools. It’s SEMIFIVE’s first global acquisition; the Korean company has also acquired Hanatec, Sesol Semiconductor, and Dahsim in its home market. After purchasing Analog Bits, SEMIFIVE’s headcount will reach 350 while its global presence extends to India, Vietnam, and the United States.

Besides analog and mixed-signal IP offerings, the closely-knit relationships with semiconductor fabs also matter in such deals. Case in point: In February 2022, Analog Bits announced to join the Intel Foundry Services (IFS) and its IP Alliance program to support the Intel 16-nm process in the areas of clocking, sensor, and I/Os.

Earlier, Analog Bits had announced the availability of its IP portfolio for the 12 nm 12LP process technology of Globalfoundries (GF). Here, the IP offerings include fractional PLL with spread spectrum clock generation (SSCG), PCIe reference clock PLL subsystem, power-on-reset (POR) circuitry, and process, voltage and temperature (PVT) sensor.

It’s also evident that custom silicon players like SEMIFIVE—seeking these analog and mixed-signal IP offerings—are likely to gain strength by offering the promise of providing spec-to-system capabilities with end-to-end solutions. That’s how they can ensure faster creation of custom SoCs for industries spanning artificial intelligence (AI) to Internet of Things (IoT) and automotive to data centers.

Figure 2 The mixed-signal IP offerings of Analog Bits serve a wide range of applications.

The SoC design movement continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and as shown by this acquisition, analog and mixed-signal IP suppliers and custom silicon players are a key part of this technology evolution. It won’t be a surprise if more such deals are in the pipeline.

This article was originally published on Planet Analog.

Majeed Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of EDN and Planet Analog, has covered the electronics design industry for more than two decades.


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