In the wake of Broadcom failing to complete its takeover of Qualcomm, Intel is buying another chip company as it works on adjusting its own its business to fit the next generation of computing. Today, the company is announcing that it is acquiring eASIC , a fabless semiconductor company that makes customisable eASIC chips for use in wireless and cloud environments. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, as the price paid will not be material to Intel. eASIC has 120 employees, was founded in 1999 and has counted Khosla, Kleiner Perkins and Seagate among its investors, raising $149 million in total. It had been recapitalised in 2012 and so, in its last round, in November 2017, it was valued at around $110 million post-money, according to PitchBook , to give you a basic idea of a possible pricing ballpark. eASIC’s technology and team will become a part of Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group (PSG), which Intel created after it acquired Altera in 2015 for $16.7 billion. Altera is a producer of FPGA chips, and the idea will be to complement those with eASIC’s technology, said Dan McNamara, corporate vice president and GM of the PSG division: “W e’re seeing the largest adoption of FPGA ever because of explosion of data and cloud services, and we think this will give us a lot of differentiation versus the likes of Xilinx,” which is one of Intel’s biggest competitors in FPGA. “We’ll be able to offer an end-to-end lifecycle that fits today’s changing workloads and infrastructure. No one on the marketplace will have this.” FPGA designs allow companies to quickly modify chip architectures, but they also require a lot of power. eASIC chips are more efficient, and they can be configured quickly from the outset (but cannot be modified). The idea will be to offer eASIC as a transition to customers of Intel’s (and its competitors) who are already using FPGA and looking for a migration to the next thing. Applications that might need eASIC power could range from baseband and radio heads in 4G and 5G networks as well as applications based in the cloud that require heavy data computations, for example AI and video services, or financial risk analysis. Intel and eASIC have actually been working together since 2015 , when the latter company started to provide its flavor of ASIC designs to Intel for its Xeon chips. McNamara confirmed that Intel never invested in eASIC but it had considered the idea “multiple” times, including recently, instead of acquiring. However, ultimately, owning the company outright made more sense for both sides, he said.
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Not a lot -- but it was telling.