On, off, then deal done as Intel buys Altera

1 min read

Having been on, then off, Intel has now inked a deal to acquire Altera for $16.7billion – a serious improvement on the $10bn originally offered. It's the latest round of semiconductor consolidation, following closely on the heels of Avago's $37bn move to acquire Broadcom.

Last week, I wondered whether the industry had entered a period of acquisition fever. It's possible; with sales growth slowing, acquisitions are one way of boosting cash flow and the bottom line, as well as becoming more of a 'one stop shop'.

Intel is unlikely to justify its move in this way; while Altera would add some $2bn to Intel's annual revenues of $56bn or so, it's not a big jump.

So is Intel's approach therefore about technology? Bringing Altera in house would allow the processor giant to start exploring FPGA/CPU combo devices for applications such as data centres.

One big question on Intel president Brian Krazanich's list will be the future for Altera's Generation 10 products. They are being made – or at least that's the plan – using Intel's 14nm process technology. But they have ARM Cortex-A53 cores; will Intel countenance use of ARM's technology or will all be fair in love and war? All, as they say, will be revealed

Now, the industry's focus is likely to turn to which company is next. When Altera was subject of rumours, Xilinx was brought into the mix as a potential target for Avago. While Avago probably has enough on its plate digesting Broadcom, is there another company which might need Xilinx' technology? And what about some of the players in the analogue world; they would make suitable targets for a company wanting to create a portfolio offer.

To a large extent, this kind of acquisition activity has already played out in the EDA and distribution sectors, which has created a handful of dominant companies and little in the way of mid sized competition. Will semiconductors go the same way?