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VeriSilicon to buy embedded GPU IP vendor

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:VeriSilicon? GPU? Vivante? OEM? ARM?

VeriSilicon Holdings Co. has revealed a definitive agreement to acquire Vivante Corp., an embedded GPU IP vendor, in an all-stock transaction. The companies refused to disclose the terms of the deal, but said the combined company's revenue, as of December 31, 2014, was valued at $180 million.

Wayne Dai, CEO of VeriSilicon, said the addition of licensable graphic cores (GPU) from Vivante will provide his company a shot in the arm for its growing IP portfolio. The deal will also increase VeriSilicon's exposure to the Tier One customer base, while opening up opportunities to enter the automotive market with established top OEM customers, relationships already cultivated by Vivante, he explained.

All in the family?

One might describe the planned merger as all in the family. Vivante's president and CEO is Wei-Jin Dai, Wayne Dai's brother. "You might think we should have been the ones to think about this in the first place. But in fact, the deal was recently suggested by VeriSilicon's investors," said Wayne Dai.

VeriSilicon claims to have an extensive semiconductor IP portfolio ranging from DSPs and video codecs to mixed signal IP and foundry foundation IP. Specific examples of IPs available on VeriSilicon's silicon platforms include licensable ZSP-based HD audio, HD voice, multi-band and multi-mode wireless platforms, Hantro HD video platforms, mixed signal NUI platforms for voice, motion and touch interface.

At odds with ARM?

Adding Vivante's GPU cores and vision image processors is critical for VeriSilicon to expand its customer base and enter the automotive market, perceived by many in the chip industry these days as one of the hottest segments. The acquisition, however, could potentially put VeriSilicon at odds with ARM, the biggest IP vendor in the world.

ARM has been pushing its own GPU IP core, Mali, and recently made a notable foray into the automotive market. VeriSilicon's Dai, however, dismissed any notion of conflict, noting that VeriSilicon has always maintained a close relationship with ARM, since the company became the first design house in China certified by ARM in 2005.

Although VeriSilicon has its own DSP core, called ZSP, acquired from LSI, Dai said, "We've been also supporting Tensilica's DSP, now owned by Cadence." VeriSilicon sees offering 'options' its customers need is the lifeblood of the company's design service business.

Natural fit

Aside from the fact that Vivante has been headed by his brother Wei-Jin since 2007, Wayne Dai sees the merger partners as a good fit. With 130 people, Vivante has design locations across Santa Clara, Shanghai and Chengdu, often located very close to VeriSilicon's design centres. VeriSilicon, with over 500 employees, has six R&D centres (China, US and Finland) and nine sales offices worldwide. "Both teams have worked together in some projects," said VeriSilicon CEO.

Wayne Dai added that, among all the IPs, "Graphics is one of the most difficult to develop." He noted that Vivante has a team of strong graphics architects, and its vision image processor IP cores are based on a unique design featuring "capable of programming at high level."

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