MADISON, Wis. – Active-Semi, a developer of highly integrated power management chips, announced Tuesday (June 25) that the company has gotten investment help, in an undisclosed amount, from LG Electronics Inc.
Active-Semi says it will use the investment to open the door for its energy-efficient power management chips in the mobile and home appliances markets. The company’s target is the imminent next-generation smartphones and tablets in Asia, which need to meet much tougher cost constraints than their U.S. counterparts.
The investment by LG, already a long-time customer of Active-Semi, is a shot in the arm for the Dallas-based fabless chip designer. Active-Semi is developing an energy efficient “power application controller” (PAC) platform featuring 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor integrated with the company's patented peripherals.
Active-Semi hopes the world will recognize the Korean giant’s investment as an endorsement for its new PAC platform. Active-Semi’s goal for the PAC solutions is to “reinvent” the way microcontrollers are designed into smart embedded systems, especially for power electronics.
LG joined Active-Semi’s existing investors including U.S. Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital and others in the fourth round of financing totaling $7 million.
Undoubtedly, LG has a huge global market presence. Winston Fu, chairman of Active-Semi and a general partner at U.S. Venture Partners, said, “LG got Active-Semi’s value proposition immediately.”
Fu described the value proposition as a “classic integration play,” whereby a microcontroller and analog chips are tightly integrated while keeping the overall cost down.
The investment in Active-Semi will give LG early access to “certain things,” said Fu, including the PAC-based solutions (which aren’t shipping yet) and future products.
Applications for Active-Semi’s power electronics chips include car chargers for smartphones and tablets, which require higher charge rate and wattage, and a Power Management Unit for mobile devices and smart appliances.
Fu believes Active-Semi is hitting a segment of the market – a huge number of cellphone users in China demanding much more cost conscious smartphones compared to those available in North America -- at the right time.