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Japan's Megachips eyes sensor hubs for IoT devices

Posted: 24 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? wearables? sensor hub? ASIC?

Megachips is virtually unknown in the United States. Even in its home country, only a few in the Japanese electronics industry have the faintest idea that it's a Japanese system LSI company in Osaka.

As most integrated device manufacturers in Japan falter through a series of ineffectual consolidations and poorly executed fab-lite transitions, Megachipsfounded in 1990 by seven Japanese engineers as an independent fabless chip vendor with no parent companyremains Japan's best-kept secret success. Megachips might have the best shot to become the next MediaTek, observers familiar with the Osaka-based company have told EE Times.


Takata: Megachips is not a design team for hire.

Megachips is Japan's only fabless chip company listed among the top 25 in the world by IC Insights. The company has worldwide revenues of more than $600 million.

In a recent wide-ranging interview with EE Times, Megachips' president and CEO Akira Takata laid out his bold plan to commit the company's future growth not on ASICs for the domestic market, but ASSPs for the global marketby concentrating on sensor hubs for the Internet of Things, mobile and wearable devices.

No prudent IC vendor today would dream of getting into the application processor market for smartphonesan empire already conquered by Qualcomm, Samsung and Apple. Some, including Megachips, are gunning for sensor fusion chips, motivated by smartphone vendors who are turning to a separate sensor fusion chip to offload an apps processor in their handsets.

If it works, this will be a dramatic shift in the company's strategy, since Megachip's cash cow is its custom ASIC business, not ASSP.

Fabless chip companies

Fabless chip companies ranked by 2013 sales. (Source: IC Insights)

The Osaka-based company is known to be working with a select handful of Japanese system companies. Nintendo is one of the key clients Megachips has worked with since the inception of its fabless history. Although it has never unveiled its customer list (except for Nintendo), Megachips has reportedly claimed one of the top two Japanese camera companies as its large client for a long time.

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