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Microsemi-Vitesse merger: A bad fit?

Posted: 19 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ethernet Everywhere? chip supplier? satellites? LAN? MIPS?

MIPS versus ARM

Technically speaking, however, there are a few caveats.

From an engineering point of view, Hackenberg pointed out that the high performance processors supplied by Vitesse are based on Imagination Technologies' MIPS core. Microsemi's smaller microcontroller products use ARM's Cortex core.

These core technologies are optimised for the ICs they've been designed into, he explained.

"MIPS CPUs are highly optimised for code density and improved data throughput for bandwidth. In contrast, ARM MCU cores are more optimised for low power device and connectivity control functions," he observed.

With most major processor suppliers reducing their portfolios of core technologies to lower overhead expenses, it's not clear how Microsemi will deal with product lines based on two different cores.

Hackenberg said, "That is not to say there aren't many very successful IC vendors maintaining diverse product lines. But it may be a challenge for this new company to quickly adapt the expertise that both sides bring to the table."

Asked to describe Microsemi, the IHS analyst said that Microsemi's value proposition is their reliability and flexibility to address very specific needs. They do this with configurable microcontrollers, their own memory solutions and a number of application-specific ICs for high reliability apps.

On the other hand, Vitesse, although a chip supplier, has a broader portfolio, which includes "applications, services and networking design turnkey support," Hackenberg said. "They target high-speed networking applications as well as network security. They do this with their broader IP portfolio and array of networking ICs from interfaces to high-performance network processing units."

Two old guards

The merger represents the union of two very mature, well-established semiconductor companies. Microsemiconductor Corp, who changed its name to Microsemi Corporation in March 1983, was founded in 1960. Vitesse started up in 1984.

In announcing the financial results of the first quarter of FY2015 that ended last December, Microsemi's CEO said the company generated 36 per cent of its revenue from communications, 28 per cent from defence and security end markets and 23 per cent from the industrial market.

Through the acquisition of Vitesse, Microsemi is hoping to update its broader portfolio and strengthen its communications expertise.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. The Vitesse deal follows Microsemi's $230 million acquisition of timing IC vendor Symmetricom in 2013.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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