Alphawave IP Group, a high-speed connectivity intellectual property (IP) provider, is to acquire the entire OpenFive business unit from SiFive Inc. for $210 million in cash, as it looks to tap huge demand for chiplets as well as the RISC-V silicon design market. The acquisition also gives the company a significant new custom silicon design team in India, and major new customers including one of the largest hyperscaler companies.
Speaking in an interview with embedded.com, Alphawave’s executive chairman, John Holt, said, “This acquisition helps us to capitalize not just on connectivity IP, but also chiplets, where we have already been seeing significant customer demand. OpenFive has a strong high-end custom silicon design team, and a huge portfolio of IP that is complementary to the Alphawave offering.”
In 2021, Holt had explained in an interview with EE Times Europe that the company had witnessed a trend whereby customers were looking for more of the solution, beyond connectivity to more broader IP solutions and chiplets. The company offers DSP-based connectivity intellectual property (IP) cores supporting data rates from 1Gbps up to 112Gbps, and with plans to offer up to 224Gbps in the future. It also offers integrated product IP cores for 100G retimer products, and chiplet IP cores for system-in-package connectivity.
Alphawave and OpenFive have worked together for over 10 years, and Holt emphasized that the team has been around long before it became part of SiFive, so has considerable silicon design capability for the delivery of high-end SoC IP technologies to both RISC-V and Arm-based customers. Its design team has historically delivered to over 280 customers, some in the most advanced process technologies, and over 70 of these customers are pure IP customers. As part of the acquisition, Alphawave will be acquiring a 300+ person team, primarily in India.
Alphawave said the acquisition of OpenFive will contribute to its business in three ways: it nearly doubles the total number of IPs it can offer, accelerates its custom silicon and chiplet offer, and significantly expands the customer base, especially in North America and also with a major unnamed hyperscaler company.
In relation to the IP portfolio, it said the acquisition will significantly expand Alphawave’s total number of connectivity and SoC IPs for customers’ entire high-end connectivity needs and accelerate its existing roadmap for advanced connectivity solutions in 4nm, 3nm and beyond. The addition of OpenFive extends its IP portfolio to over 155 IPs, from the current 80 or so that it has.
With regard to chiplets, Alphawave said adoption of chiplets by the semiconductor industry is rapidly expanding the total addressable market for its technology and driving design wins faster than expected.
In the company’s Q4 2021 trading update, it highlighted chiplet design wins being ahead of expectations, and was reinforced by the recent launch of the UCIe industry consortium, established by Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), AMD, Arm, Google Cloud, Intel Corporation, Meta, Microsoft Corporation, Qualcomm Incorporated, Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. This consortium ratified the UCIe 1.0 specification, aimed at providing a complete standardized die-to-die interconnect with physical layer, protocol stack, software model, and compliance testing to enable end users to easily mix and match chiplet components from a multi-vendor ecosystem for SoC construction, including customized SoCs.
The third aspect of Alphawave’s rationale for acquiring OpenFive is the resulting significant increase in customer base – from 20 to over 75. Alphawave stated that this will provide a broader platform from which it can continue to execute a “land and expand” sales strategy, enabling it to add significant key customers in North America including a new hyperscaler customer in North America. The acquisition also positions Alphawave more strongly in the league of suppliers of high-performance connectivity-focused custom silicon.
Tony Pialis, president and chief executive officer of Alphawave, commented, “This acquisition is important for Alphawave, but also for our industry, as we will now be the leading pure-play provider of connectivity solutions in the world in whatever form-factor our customers need it – as silicon IP or in custom silicon solutions like chiplets. As we look to the future, we expect to develop and acquire additional capabilities to further expand and accelerate our leadership in connectivity. In our core business, the first quarter of 2022 is very strong and the outlook for 2022 is also strong. We expect this transaction to meaningfully impact revenues in H2 2022, pending regulatory approval of the transaction.” The acquisition is forecast to generate FY 2023 revenue of between US$325m to US$360m for the combined group, with a path to a yearly revenue run rate of over US$500m in 2024.
Holt added, “When we completed our IPO in 2021, we committed to continuing to grow and accelerate our business by deploying the capital we raised. This began with the acquisition of Precise-ITC in 2021, and the addition of the OpenFive team will further accelerate Alphawave’s business. Alphawave can now deliver bundled connectivity-focused IP solutions and custom silicon solutions like chiplets to global customers. This will enable a scale and top-line growth that we envisioned, but much faster than we expected.”
The transaction is expected to close in H2 2022, and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Holt said that the OpenFive team will integrate completely under the Alphawave brand.
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