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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.”

OLIVER MARKL | Partner
Acuity Advisors

With a background as M&A banker at J.P. Morgan and a senior private equity professional at mid-market firm Monitor Clipper Partners, Oliver has been exposed for over 20 years to a wide variety of transaction situations with European mid-cap and large cap companies, with a particular focus on software and financial services.

Oliver´s experience is very broad-based: he advised on M&A transactions and equity & debt raises, served on the board of portfolio companies, took operational CFO roles and restructured balance sheets. He also founded and ran his own software company, for which he raised close to EUR 10m. This 360° view allows him to understand everybody´s point of view and priorities when talking to shareholders, management teams and investors, and facilitates finding creative solutions and optimal transaction structures.

Oliver has a Diplôme d´Ingènieur from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and a diploma in international relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS in Bologna. He has lived in France, Germany, Austria, the UK and the US, and speaks mother tongue level German and French, as well as decent Italian and Spanish. He currently serves on the board of Reverse Logistics Group in Munich.

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