SAN JOSE, Calif. – Design services firm Aricent acquired SmartPlay Technologies of Bangalore for an estimated $180 million. A rise in demand for custom versions of server chip sets is one of the opportunities the merged company will pursue.
The 1,200-person staff at SmartPlay will be combined with about 1,100 developers at Aricent to create a new group focused on the semiconductor industry. Pradeep Vajram, co-founder and CEO of SmartPlay, will become president of a new group.
SmartPlay brings about 800 chip designers to Aricent which employs about 10,000 mainly software developers. They hope to fill a need for implementing custom silicon for servers, game consoles and other systems adding security, graphics and other accelerators to standard chip sets.
“A lot of companies are looking at vertical integration and want devices that are specific to their needs that they can build value on,” Vajram told EE Times. “There are big OEMs convinced semiconductors will add value for them -- this trend is just beginning and will continue,” he said.
SmartPlay does as much as three-quarters of its designs in leading edge processes, including designs in Samsung and Intel 14nm processes, Vajram added.
Vajram came to India in 1993 to set up an ASIC design center for the former LSI Logic. He then built his own design services firm, Spike Technologies, he later sold to Qualcomm and ran as its India design center for more than three years. Seven years ago, he left to create SmartPlay which handles a range of chip and software design for clients including Intel and Qualcomm.
Like many design centers in India, SmartPlay focuses on implementation stages including physical design, design for test and verification as well as system software.
“India is very mature right now when it comes to implementation skills -- I don’t think there is any difference between it’s capabilities and those in North America and Europe,” Vajram said.
“Where India still needs to improve is in developing intellectual property and architectural design,” he said. “We must get closer to [systems] customers…[typically] in the West -- I see some companies making investments in standards-based IP, but that doesn’t require customer interaction,” he added.
India’s electronics industry also needs to build research capabilities in its industries to better compete with the West, he said. “It’s not about putting in a fab from my perspective, its funding research so that universities are not just about education to get a job,” Vajram said.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times