Nvidia to shutter Icera modem business

May 6, 2015 // 1:27 p.m.

Tags: #baseband #bristol #broadcom #closure #embedded #icera #jen-hsun-huang #mobile #modem #nvidia #smartphone #soc #stan-boland #tablet

Nvidia has confirmed that it is abandoning attempts to compete with heavily-integrated system-on-chip (SoC) suppliers in the mobile market, winding down its modem operations and seeking a buyer for its Icera division.

Nvidia acquired the Bristol-headquartered Icera back in 2011 for $367 million in cash in a blatant attempt to directly compete with all-in-one SoC companies like Broadcom who offer heavily-integrated products. 'This is a key step in Nvidia's plans to be a major player in the mobile computing revolution,' claimed Nvidia president Jen-Hsun Huang at the time. 'Adding Icera's technology to Tegra gives us an outstanding platform to support the industry's best phones and tablets. Icera is a perfect fit for Nvidia. Our businesses are complementary. Icera has the right team, with a strong, proven track record. And their nimble, entrepreneurial, engineering-focused culture mirrors our own.'

Positivity was high on both sides of the table. 'Nvidia's Tegra processor has the most impressive roadmap in the industry, and it is an ideal match for Icera,' claimed Icera president Stan Boland. 'As part of Nvidia, we will be able to reach a broader market. Our team has collaborated closely with Nvidia for several years on a range of projects, and we're delighted to be joining forces.'

Now, four years later, Nvidia's modem efforts are to end. While Nvidia will continue to use the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) modem developed by its subsidiary in future products, claiming that the design 'meets the company's needs for the next year or more,,' it is going back to partnering with third-party modem makers for future products and will no longer develop modem technology of its own. As a result, the Icera division is to be wound down - although the company has indicated that it is open to a sale of the technology and/or operations to a separate company, a move which could save the 500-some Icera employees who will otherwise be out of a job as a result of the move.

Nvidia's decision to shutter Icera comes as it looks to branch its Tegra technology out from smartphones and tablets, offering development systems targeted at embedded and automotive markets in an attempt to find a new and hopefully less price-sensitive customer spread.
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