Arteris Sells Some Of Its IP Assets To Qualcomm

Arteris to remain in NoC IP business as independent company. Bulk of Arteris French engineering team to move to Qualcomm.

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Qualcomm agreed to buy Arteris’ NoC technology IP and hire some of the engineers who built it, but Arteris will continue to service that IP to new and existing customers. Under terms of the agreement, the two companies also have agreed upon a roadmap for future deliverables of the IP as well as an engineering support contract. Arteris retains the source code for the FlexNoC interconnect IP product and well as perpetual licenses for FlexNoC interconnect IP and its associated patents.

The complex deal appears to be part of a developing trend in the semiconductor IP business, where only certain assets of a company are acquired rather than the entire company. This represents a new wrinkle on exit strategies in this sector, where IPOs are non-existent these days. And while full acquisitions do happen—consider Cadence’s acquisition of Tensilica and Denali, Synopsys’ acquisition of Virage Logic and Imagination Technologies acquisition of MIPS—there also are other kinds of deals being made. For example, ARM acquired patents from Sonics but left the company otherwise intact.

Viewed from the standpoint of the IP companies, it essentially turns them into IP incubators, complete with infrastructure, cash, a distribution network and an established customer base. And because they have one or more viable products, they also have a steady income stream from licensees.

“Our customers know we will still be in business and will add to our engineering capability,” said Charlie Janac, chairman and CEO of Arteris. “This deal allows us to tackle new markets such as wearables and the Internet of Things, as well as to dive deeper into established markets such as automotive SoC IP.

The downside is that the engineering team will have to be rebuilt, but the FlexNoC product created by the engineering team is proven and mature and will continue to be supported by existing personnel, Janac said. He noted that the Arteris engineering team was unusual in that it delivered releases on time and with excellent quality.

Under the terms of the deal, all information between Arteris and its customers will remain confidential. In addition, the amount paid to Arteris will remain private. The deal had been in discussion for seven months, Janac said.