Sunday, June 3, 2018

Microchip devouring another semiconductor company

It was announced a while ago but last week the deal was completed and Microchip Technology, Inc. acquired Microsemi, Corp. for $10.3 billion, making it the largest acquisition to date.
This follows previous acquisitions of other important semiconductor companies such as Atmel, Micrel, SMSC, SST, etc.
But Microsemi is not foreign to acquisitions, actually the company originally Microsemiconductor founded in 1959 out of Culver City, CA, evolved over time product of multiple acquisitions of other companies and product lines. Most recent ones are for example Vectron, Phonon, PMC-Sierra, Symetricom, Zarklink, Actel, etc., and timing and synthesis business from Maxim, high reliability diode arrays from National Semiconductor, etc.
On its early days Microsemi was mostly a provider of semiconductor and systems solutions for defense applications. Nowadays has a very vast portfolio of products that will let Microchip diversify much more their product line, including FPGAs and SoCs, Storage, Ethernet and Network processors, Optical products, PoE, Power Management, Timing, RF transceivers, etc.

I visited their offices in Austin, TX last year when I was doing research and learning how to integrate Amazon Voice services (aka Alexa) into embedded systems. Microsemi has a very interesting front end audio processor which uses a revolutionary technology beyond DSPs to analyze the signals in the frequency domain, where using clever algorithms you can separate noise, music from voice, using multiple microphones implement beam forming, determine distance from the source, embed a “wake” word and obviously convert into digital format.

At the time I started working with an evaluation board of this processor, now they have a very nice development kit where using a Raspberry Pi you can easily learn how to put together a proof of concept for AVS.

You can order this kit from my friends of Arrow Electronics.

Another product line that was of my interest and will be part of one of my “What’s on the bench” articles are their Power Over Ethernet solutions, there is in particular a very interesting part they developed that is an ideal bridge rectifier that is tailored for PoE applications where power efficiency is a must.

But I'll talk more about it in a coming article. For now I just hope that Microchip keeps these products alive and continue developing them since they are well suited for the applications Microsemi targeted for them.

Till next time ya'll

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