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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?

5. China strategy

Investment in Vidatronic last April stems from Megachips' interest in access to the Texas-based company's voltage regulation and power management technologies. "We'd like to be able to use their technology in our ASICs, and leverage it as IP in our future chip business," explained Takata.

Megachips' growth strategy is, however, squarely focused on the Chinese market.

Taking a majority share of Modiotek through MegaChips' Taiwan subsidiary is a vital step for Megachips to win business in China. "We are acquiring a team of 100 peoplemost of them are engineers and chip designers who know software and algorithms, and work as field application engineers," said Takata. "When we want to work with our customers in China, like Xiaomi, Lenovo or Foxconn, we need our own people who can negotiate and support them in Chinese."

6. SiTimeicing on the cake

SiTime's MEMS

Megachips' CEO shows off SiTime's MEMS

The most recently reported Megachips' acquisition of MEMS timing leader SiTime Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) "completes my scenario" for Megachips' global foray in the IoT market, said Takata. As MegaChips has recently gotten into the development of sensor hubs and sub-GHz wireless technology, Takata sees SiTime's MEMS timing device product line as a natural fit for MegaChips' new product portfolio for wearable and handheld devices.

"MEMS devices are small, low-power and resistant to vibrations. In a vacuumed package, they're also capable of becoming automotive grade," said Takata. "For smartwatches or wearable devices, MEMS is the only way to go as far as timing devices are concerned."

7. Sensor fusion coming

SiTime's MEMS

(Source: Megachips)

Just this month, Megachips completed the development of a sensor hub IC called Frizz. Describing it as the new generation of sensor hub, Frizz's claim to fame is offloading some of the tasks of processing sensor data from a host processor, but doing so in a chip, running at extremely low power, without a microcontroller.

Megachips' designers customised 32bit DSP by Tensilica (now Cadence) and integrated three-way VLIW and floating point 4-way SIMDarchitecture ideally suited for matrix computationnecessary for such applications as pedestrian dead reckoning.

Most impressive about Megachips' new entry in the sensor hub market is that Frizz isn't a single point product. Megachips had its engineering sample more than 1 ? years ago, and it's been testing the chip, exploring applications with Chinese smartphone vendors, China's operators and map companies.

8. Defining products by going vertical

Megachips used to be content to remain anonymous and never outshine its ASIC customers, while being deeply integrated in the customers' design teams. This is all going to change dramatically.

While retaining its systems perspective, Megachips hopes to crack the sensor hub market by taking a vertical view, ranging from chips to systems, applications and service so it can bring genuine "turnkey" solutions to its new customers.

Megachips' strategy is not so different from MediaTek's playbook. When Taiwan's MediaTek doggedly pursued China's fairly inexperienced consumer electronics companies getting into the DVD player business in early 2000s, MediaTek took a long view. It developed a high-quality LSI designed with more room to correct and reshape corrupt video signals coming out of counterfeit DVDs in China. The Taiwanese knew the market, its customers and its applications.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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