Indeed, ams [Unterpremstätten, Austria] recently started volume
shipments of its active antenna near-field communications (NFC) product
for mobile payments. The product helps integrated NFC functionality in
SIM or micro-SD cards, and complies with the EMV (Europay, MasterCard
and VISA) payment standard.
It also uses the industry’s smallest
antenna form factor with virtually a 100-percent read rate, a key
attribute since the antenna complexity is “severe” when designing in SIM
and micro-SD payment systems into devices.
Heugle said ams is
working on a family of products for POS readers and NFC-emulation
devices that will debut in the second half of this year, but didn’t
provide details. The company also makes UHF RFID reader products for the
Another growth opportunity is the
high-resolution display market for smartphones and tablets, which
requires power management ICs that drive in excess of 21 amps in
microseconds. The company is set to introduce products to support this
market that will include discrete devices, which will garner ASPs in the
“That plays nicely into our high-voltage capabilities and power developments,” he said.
support the capacity ramp, ams is expanding its wafer fab production
with foundry partners TSMC and UMC in Taiwan along with IBM for its
high-voltage capabilities. It also has an in-house 200-mm fab in
The company claims an 80 percent share of the MEMS
microphone interface market as well as 40 percent of the light sensor
sector. By combining intelligent light sensors from TOAS with its LED
drivers for LCD TV backlighting, ams claims to have developed a solution
that achieves up to 50 percent power savings.
With the TAOS
acquisition, sensors and sensor interface ICs now account for as much as
70 percent of ams’ revenues, which jumped 66 percent year-over-year in
the second quarter of 2012, to $161.7 million on earnings of $24
Heugle is not adverse on making strategic investments
to boost the company’s revenue base, as well as its product portfolio in
the future. “We are not out on the prowl for acquisition,” he said “But
if there are the right tuck-in opportunities, we will certainly take
advantage of them.”
Sensors do account for a large portion of ams’ revenue, especially after the TAOS acquisition last year. However, even before the deal, ams’ product portfolio included sensors for the industrial and medical markets. The deal not only rounded out its sensor offerings, but gave it a bigger presence in smart phones and tablets. It is precisely this area, too, that ams expects to garner higher sales growth with its wireless products, including its NFC-based chips for mobile payment and UHF RFID reader solutions for authentication.
"With the TAOS acquisition, sensors and sensor interface ICs now account for as much as 70 percent of ams’ revenues". Is it a bit strange that revenue is so dominated by a newly acquired company? Can I say the original AMS guys are not doing well in their original work?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.