Semiconductor company Nvidia is buying Icera for $367 million in an effort to step up its role in the rapidly expanding market for chips used in smartphones and tablets.
The deal, announced Monday, will help Nvidia bring its PC-focused line of baseband processors up to speed with the requirements of chips used by the wireless industry.
“This is a key step in Nvidia’s plans to be a major player in the mobile computing revolution,” Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said in a statement.
The acquisition has been approved by both companies’ boards of directors and is expected to be close in about 30 days.
Icera makes software-based baseband processors that can be used on 2G, 3G and 4G networks. The company says the processors allow manufacturers to develop multiple products from a common platform, helping to reduce development costs, accelerate time to market and secure a route to support future baseband standards.
Once the deal closes next month, Nvidia will be able to provide the two main processors used in smartphones, the application processor and baseband processor. Nvidia plans to integrate Icera’s programmable baseband processor architecture into its Tegra processor in a bid to make its chips more appealing to handset manufacturers.
“This is a significant step forward in Nvidia’s strategy to be the processor company for the post-PC era,” said Phil Carmack, senior vice president of Nvidia’s mobile business, in a post on the company’s blog. “Over time this deal will give us a more complete and fully optimized mobile platform.”
The purchase could further pit Nvidia against semiconductor giant Qualcomm. Icera claims its baseband processors are smaller than comparable products from Qualcomm and Ericsson, with equal or better performance, according to a report from Strategy Analytics.
Icera was founded in 2002 and is based in Bristol, England. The company has about 300 employees in seven countries in Europe and Asia, as well as the United States.