LAS VEGAS — MediaTek demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show its readiness for the post-smartphone era by moving into several new sectors, including chips for data switches, automotive and AI processors for edge devices.
David Ku, MediaTek’s chief financial officer, discussed plans to bring “a certain AI function” that requires only small computational power to a large volume of devices including light switches. “We want to become an edge AI enabler,” he told EE Times in a one-on-one interview at CES.
Downplaying the company’s dependence on the smartphone market, Ku said smartphones — the single biggest driver for the company’s growth over the past several years — generated “less than 40 percent” of its revenue last year.
Roughly 30 percent of MediaTek’s sales last year derived from its Internet of Things (IoT) and ASIC/PMIC businesses. Ku described these two units as MediaTek’s “growth sector,” which grew 20 percent last year.
Another 30 percent of sales came from what Ku calls a “stable cash-cow business,” selling chips designed into digital TV, feature phones, monitors and optical storage.
David Ku, MediaTek chief financial officer.
Asked about the elements of MediaTek’s IoT business, Ku responded connectivity chips like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and semiconductors for a host of fast-growing voice assistant devices.
MediaTek also sees a growing demand for data switches. “We are making custom-designed ASICs for data switches for data centers,” Ku said.
While MediaTek will face potential competitors such as Broadcom and Cisco, Ku said the company is getting good traction from customers. “It’s a good market to be in because we aren’t seeing any slowdown among users generating lots of data," he said.
MediaTek is no longer solely dependent on the smartphone market, Ku stressed. The investment community sees “we have a balanced portfolio.”
MediaTek, although still new to the auto market, now has four products for automotive tier-one customers. They include telematic modules, mmWave radars, in-vehicle infotainment and digital clusters.
Among these, mmWave radars are particularly new. MediaTek has managed to crash a select group of chip vendors who have successfully developed CMOS-based radars. Others include: NXP, Texas Instruments and Infineon.
MediaTek’s mmWave radar CMOS design includes embedded RF and baseband processing, and integrated antenna in package.
JC Hsu, MediaTek's corporate vice president responsible for its automotive business, told us, “Our mmWave radars, operating between 76-81GHz, can detect obstacles in 10 to 15 meters,” making them an ideal replacement for the ultrasound devices currently used to detect objects closer to a vehicle. “OEMs and tier ones are delighted that they no longer have to drill holes for ultrasound chips.”
As for automotive telematics, MediaTek is offering both DSRC and 4G cellular for Vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure applications.
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