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Rambus makes ripples with dual acquisitions in data interface market

To better support next generation applications like AI and machine learning, data centres are increasingly shifting to disaggregated architecture; separating resources such as CPUs, memory, and storage into distinct areas to accelerate performance.

Rambus is now running headlong into this growing market with two acquisitions. The American firm which develops and licenses chip connection technologies, has two pending purchases of companies providing vital products for disaggregated server architectures.

The first target – PLDA – develops and licenses Semiconductor Intellectual Property (SIP), specializing in high-speed Compute Express Link™ (CXL) tech and PCIe. These interfaces are critical to disaggregated architectures, removing communication bottlenecks between CPUs and other components such as GPUs, memory and FPGAs to boost performance.

At the same time, Rambus is also acquiring AnalogX. This Toronto-based IP vendor is a leading provider of ultra-low power multi-standard connectivity solutions, using SerDes interfaces that have very low latency to support high-performance computing and highly-demanding data centre applications.

The intellectual property acquired from these acquisitions could help make Rambus an interface IP powerhouse, giving the firm a critical share of the high-speed connectivity technologies that promise to be the backbone of the increasingly important data centre industry.

Though Rambus is one of the first semiconductor outfits to seek control over IP in this particular segment, we could expect more deals like this to come to fruition as firms focus on securing IP across a range of rapidly heating up markets, including 5G, edge computing, and the automotive chip sector.,

This deal making would be supported not only by cheap capital, but government investment, as individual countries and regions seek to secure supply chains and establish digital sovereignty following disruption caused by the pandemic.

“Consolidation in the semiconductor industry is now also extending to the niche IP segment. As illustrated by Rambus acquiring PLDA, Xilinx acquiring Silexica, Apple setting up its new chip design center in Munich and a  number of IP-led transactions Acuity is currently managing, Europe is proving to be a particularly fertile ground for semiconductor businesses. This is driven by the combination of a very strong education system and the less capital-intensive nature of the IP segment. We expect to see a continued high level of deal activity in 2021 and moving into 2022.”

Matthew Byatt | Partner
Acuity Advisors

Matthew is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Acuity and leads the Acuity Advisors’ Deeptech practice.

Matthew has held senior leadership and corporate finance positions with some of the UK’s most successful and influential technology and consultancy companies. Roles with ARM, McKinsey and Cadence have given Matthew an exceptional insight into the world’s most successful businesses and a number of the UK’s eminent start-ups, underpinning his success at Acuity.

Matthew has considerable experience across a broad range of technology sectors throughout the UK, US and Asia, ranging from nanotechnology, semiconductor and cleantech to digital media and internet businesses. It’s experience that has given him a robust, well-developed and international network. Having also run and successfully exited his own business, Matthew has a deep understanding of the financial and emotional aspects of this demanding process, bringing a unique and authoritative perspective to each business sale.

One of Matthew’s strengths is understanding complex technical value propositions, one of the benefits of training as an electronic engineer. He gets to the heart of what drives a company’s value and communicates this persuasively to potential buyers and investors. Matthew understands a buyer’s motivation intuitively and delivers a compelling rationale for why a business sale should be of strategic interest. His insight consistently yields higher deal values and results in great successes for his clients.

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