Wearable Tech World Feature Article
October 29, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: MegaChips Makes Mega Deal for Semiconductor Maker

One of the biggest issues in the wearable tech market—as it is in the mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) market as well—is the issue of the processor. Processors are often required to make technology accomplish all those great things that it can accomplish, but at the same time, when it comes to devices in the previously mentioned markets, other considerations come into play. To that end, it's not a surprise to see mergers and acquisitions (M&A) going on in processors, as exemplified by MegaChips Corporation's move to buy SiTime Corporation.

The deal between MegaChips and SiTime was reportedly valued at $200 million, all of it in cash, and allows MegaChips—already a top 25 fabless semiconductor operation, to land SiTime, whose focus is in microelectricalmechanical systems (MEMS) as well as analog semiconductors. Once the deal is closed, which is expected to take place sometime in November, SiTime will retain its current name, but rather operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary as opposed to a division of MegaChips. The deal is reportedly the largest acquisition of a venture-backed semiconductor operation so far this year—with only about two months left in this year, it's likely to remain the largest of 2014—and offers up some particular advantages for Tokyo-based MegaChips.

In particular, MegaChips is landing SiTime for a key focus: timing solutions. Timing solutions relate to the clock function involved in virtually all technology, much of which is still using quartz-based technology that goes back roughly 75 years. But SiTime had brought out a line of MEMS-based timing solutions that improved substantially on quartz timing, which in turn opened up the field to several separate markets ranging from networking to telecommunications to storage and beyond.

Indeed, processors pose a particular importance in the wearable tech market; the size of the processor, its weight, its heat distribution, and similar matters are part of the equation, and that makes proper processor design an indispensable part of the overall market. Developments like those offered by SiTime are contributing to these developments by offering up powerful new tools like the BlueChip Wireless system—which serves as a sub-GHz RF LSI—and the Sensor Hub LSI, which works with extremely low levels of power. Being able to create a wide range of processor types allows SiTime to offer more potential development capability in the market, and that's likely what attracted MegaChips to its operations in the first place.

While it will take some time to see just what kind of impact SiTime's operations have on MegaChips as a whole, it's also clear that SiTime has a lot of potential to add to MegaChips' operations. With an unprecedented demand for processors coming up thanks to the sheer array of new potential uses for such devices in markets from wearable tech to the IoT and beyond, being able to produce the best in processors will likely mean good news for those who can produce same. It will be exciting regardless to see just what MegaChips can do with the SiTime operations, and may well mean some substantial new developments in several fields for the rest of us.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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