Is Nvidia gearing up to take on Qualcomm in the mobile application processor market? That may be a possible scenario thanks to its agreement to purchase baseband and RF technology company Icera. Nvidia announced on Monday that it shelled out a hefty $367 million in cash, and expects to complete the acquisition in approximately thirty days.
Founded in 2002 and based in Bristol, England, Icera produces multi-protocol, ultra-low power wireless baseband processors with RF components, capable of working on 2G, 3G and 4G networks that use different protocols, such as HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE. "Because the baseband is software-based, manufacturers can develop multiple products from a common platform, reduce development costs, accelerate time to market and secure a route to support future baseband standards," Nvidia said.
The company's third-generation Livanto is currently on the market while the fourth-generation Espresso 450 and 500 lines are scheduled to arrive in the near future. These will offer "industry-leading performance for 2G, 3G and 4G networks, low-power optimization for voice and high-speed data" in the industry's smallest form factor.
Once the acquisition is finalized, Nvidia plans to integrate Icera's technology into the Tegra platform, combining both the application processor and baseband processor. This should help OEM customers both improve their time to market and deliver the requirements of next-generation mobile computing. This will also put Nvidia in a better position to compete with Apple on hardware refresh level while possibly doubling its revenue with each device. It's a win for everybody (unless you're a competitor).
"This is a key step in Nvidia's plans to be a major player in the mobile computing revolution," said Jen-Hsun Huang, President and CEO of Nvidia. "Adding Icera's technology to Tegra gives us an outstanding platform to support the industry's best phones and tablets. Icera is a perfect fit for Nvidia. Our businesses are complementary. Icera has the right team, with a strong, proven track record. And their nimble, entrepreneurial, engineering-focused culture mirrors our own."
Monday Nvidia's CEO stated that the company isn't giving up on its existing baseband customers, and will respect Icera's customers' preferences in combining baseband processors with the application processor of their choice. Even if customers don't choose a Nvidia-based processor, the acquisition makes Nvidia a baseband chip supplier at the least.
More details will be provided during Nvidia's quarterly conference call to be held on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. PT, the company said.