Intel Grows Silicon Engineering Group With SoC Acquisition

Credit: NetSpeed SystemsCredit: NetSpeed Systems

Intel announced this week its acquisition of NetSpeed Systems. The moves comes as Intel looks to grow its Silicon Engineering Group and expand its portfolio of interconnect-related intellectual property. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Intel did say it plans to honor NetSpeed's existing contracts prior to bringing all of its work in-house.

NetSpeed is a system-on-chip (SoC) company with six products: four interconnects called Orion, Gemini, Orion AI and Crux and two add-ons called Pegasus and SoC Builder. Besides Intel, its customers include several Fortune 100 companies in the telecommunications, semiconductor and mobile industries, as well as Arm. Altera, which Intel acquired in late 2015, was also a NetSpeed customer (talk about internal synergy).

Those products are supposed to help NetSpeed offer the "easiest and most cost effective way to assemble an SoC." Promises like that are going to become increasingly important to companies like Intel as more and more devices are expected to offer "smart" features. NetSpeed said its products have applications from connected homes and cars to cloud computing and mobile--all of which have become areas of focus for Intel.

"NetSpeed’s highly configurable and synthesizable offerings will help Intel more quickly and cost-effectively design, develop and test new SoCs with an ever-increasing set of IP,." Intel said in its announcement.

NetSpeed co-founder and CEO Sundari Mitra will become an Intel vice president reporting to Jim Keller, the lead architect of AMD's Zen microarchitecture who joined Intel after a stint at the Tesla electric car maker.

The company also explained how it plans to use NetSpeed's technologies and expertise:

"As SoCs grow more complex and as new fabrication processes explode the number of design rules, architects are increasingly utilizing front-end tools like NetSpeed’s to automate the design and validation process – saving time and money. NetSpeed’s technology helps architects estimate and optimize SoC performance in advance of manufacturing through a system-level approach, user-driven automation and state-of-the-art algorithms."

Mitra told the Silicon Valley Business Journal that this deal is also something of a homecoming for her. She worked at Intel right out of college before heading to Sun, founding Prism and selling that company to Mosys, Inc. Combine that familiarity with Intel and NetSpeed's age--four years is an eternity for a startup--and it's not hard to imagine why Mitra and Co. would decide it was time to become part of something bigger.

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