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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sony positions itself for IoT with Altair buy

English: Official logo of Altair Semiconductor
English: Official logo of Altair Semiconductor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Nick Flaherty

Sony may have been selling off parts of its semiconductor business over the last few years, but it is back on the consolidation trail with a key buy of wireless innovator Altair Semiconductor.

Altair, based in Israel, originally started developing WiMax chipsets, but moved to 4G when WiMax stalled and 4G LTE took over. With 4G well established in silicon, the focus now is on 5G specifications, which include 10Gbit/s download speeds and a challenging 1ms round trip link latency that is aimed at devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Both these specifications are music to the ears of Sony, which is looking to combine the bits of its semiconductor business it kept - CMOS image sensors and GPS navigation chips - with wireless links, and Altair has truly leading edge expertise in these areas. The current 4G modem chips and software stand out for their low power consumption, high performance and competitive cost. 

The $212m Altair deal is expected to complete quickly, closing in early February. This is a lot quicker than the re-structuring of its own electronic component business, which is due to complete in April this year. This brings together the semiconductor, battery and storage technologies into  Sony Semiconductor Solutions.

This is part of Sony's vision of more and more "things" equipped with cellular chipsets in a connected environment in which "things" can reliably and securely access network services that leverage the power of cloud computing, it says. It is aiming not only to expand Altair's existing business, but also to move forward with research on and development of new sensing technologies.

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