NXP Brings Catena Completely In-House

Article By : Nitin Dahad

NXP decides Catena is an important part of its RF strategy and brings it completely in-house...

Over the last eight years, Catena, an RF IP design house that has to its credit numerous Wi-Fi and Bluetooth designs, has been operating independently serving both external customers and internal since being acquired by NXP Semiconductors in 2012. However, this month, Catena is now fully absorbed with the RF competence center within NXP and will no longer service external business.

Since NXP acquired all the shares in the company eight years ago, it allowed Catena to operate as a separate IP design company serving external customers. At the time of acquisition, NXP represented 60% of Catena’s sales, and now it represents around 80%.

Based on this NXP told us that it decided to move the whole group in house. In a statement, the company said,

“On April 15, the management teams of NXP and Catena announced the future path for Catena Holding B.V. – a design house headquartered in Delft, the Netherlands, and fully owned by NXP Semiconductors since 2012. 

For many years already, Catena’s expertise has contributed to accelerate NXP’s growth in securely connected cars and IoT devices. Going forward, the plan is to convert Catena into a fully internal RF Competence Center for NXP’s growing businesses in connectivity, radar, car radio and other RF reception areas. 

The new RF Competence Center will consist of about 125 experts and will be located in NXP’s CTO organization [under Lars Reger].  It will be driven out of sites in Eindhoven, Delft, and Kista (Sweden). The plan is to close Catena’s small offices in Dresden, Vienna, and Pavia, and to reduce some support functions over time. Integrating the highly skilled Catena experts as a Competence Center into NXP will create new opportunities for both sides.”

Catena was founded in 1986 in Delft, The Netherlands, by a team who wanted to bring structured analog and RF IC design methodology to the industry. In various development projects and in design workshops provided to industry leading companies like Ericsson, Philips, Texas Instruments, Catena succeeded in bringing a structured IC design methodology to both its customers and to its own design teams.

We understand that Catena has over the years been responsible for the development of many of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth solutions. Back in 2015, Ceva announced it had partnered with Catena for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth IP radios. We contacted Ceva about the impact of Catena going in-house. A spokesperson told us that the ecosystem is huge and that the company has a number of partners, so there was no impact.

The spokesperson told us:

“Catena has been a good partner of ours for the last few years and we’re sure they’ll continue to be a successful team focusing on NXP’s in-house strategy. As an IP company with many customers in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NB-IoT, we maintain multiple RF partners as well as our own internal solutions to ensure our customers can find the right fit for their target application. Since the beginning of 2018, we have signed about 40 Bluetooth agreements and another 20 or so agreements for our Wi-Fi and NB-IoT IPs. As you can imagine, these deals are signed all over the globe targeting different markets, use cases and foundries and geometries. It’s such a variety of RF requirements, so it makes sense that we have broad RF coverage for our customers.”

NXP said that while its external business was not that significant, it would continue to serve out specific obligations until those were completed. According to NXP CTO Lars Reger, “Catena is a super relevant business for us. That’s why we are making this move.” He believes that NXP has been gradually building more capacity in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the Marvell acquisition is part of that strategy, demonstrating NXP’s commitment to RF. By moving Catena in-house that would ensure no restrictions in capacity. Reger added, “I am very excited to work very closely with the Catena team as part of my own team within the RF competence center.”

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