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Semiconductor Value Chain

Qualcomm Buys Network-on-Chip Technology

05 November 2013

Qualcomm has bought the network-on-chip interconnect intellectual property that has been developed over the last 10 years by Arteris Inc.

Arteris (Sunnyvale, Calif.) confirmed last week that Qualcomm Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego), had acquired certain technology assets from Arteris and hired personnel formerly employed by Arteris. How much Qualcomm paid was not revealed, nor was it disclosed how Arteris will develop over time without ownership of its key technology.

Arteris said it will retain the right to license, support and maintain the existing FlexNoC and FlexLLI product lines in order to fulfill existing and new licensing contracts with its customers. Arteris said it has more than 50 licensees who have utilized FlexNoC interconnect IP on nearly 200 projects, including SoC chips and FPGAs.

Arteris has been a long-time competitor to Sonics Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.), but the commercial landscape changed in May 2013 when leading processor licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) took a license to Sonics' patent portfolio. ARM currently offers its AMBA interconnect technology as a licensable add-on to its processor cores in competition to network-on-chip interconnect offerings from Sonics and Arteris. The Sonics-ARM deal indicated closer cooperation between ARM and Sonics on a next-generation interconnect offering.

Sonics and ARM have said they will cooperate to support Sonics' power management technologies, intended to deliver power savings via the intelligent control of power to cores.

While this move may have made licensing of FlexNoC harder for Arteris, Qualcomm has seen value in the technology—and the team behind it.

"Arteris NoC technology has been, and will continue to be, a key enabler for creating larger and more complex chips in a shorter amount of time at a lower cost," said Charles Janac, CEO of Arteris, in a statement. "This acquisition of our technology assets represents a validation of the value of Arteris' Network-on-Chip interconnect IP technology."

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