Synaptics Buys DSP Group for $538M to Add Audio to IoT Portfolio

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Synaptics said acquisition of DSP Group help diversify IoT portfolio, and sell integrated voice, vision and edge AI.

Synaptics Inc. announced it is acquiring DSP Group for $538 million in cash, to add audio and smart voice capabilities to its Internet of things (IoT) portfolio.

Synaptics said the rationale for the acquisition is to combine “best-in-class” voice and vision artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into a single portfolio, as well as strengthen its wireless portfolio with ultra low energy (ULE) enabled security applications. DSP Group is considered to have leadership positions across multiple markets in what Synaptics calls the internet of audio things (IoAT) with significant growth opportunities in low power SmartVoice, unified communications and collaboration, and wireless IoT devices. Most of these solutions are relevant to Synaptics’ existing customer base, enabling cross-selling of portfolio devices.

Synaptics - DSP Group 3In a statement, the president and CEO of Synaptics, Michael Hurlston, said, “DSP Group’s expertise in SmartVoice and ULE wireless solutions, coupled with Synaptics’ leadership position in far-field speech recognition and IoT directed Wi-Fi/BT combos enables us to deliver increasingly differentiated solutions to our combined customer base, while positioning us to lead the transition to AI enabled devices at the edge of the network.”

Synaptics recently announced its low power edge AI initiative, which opens a significant long-term opportunity: ABI research predicts approximately 2.5 billion TinyML units to be sold by 2030.  The addition of DSP Group’s SmartVoice products to Synaptics’ Katana smart vision platform creates a portfolio that can both serve existing customer needs and address future market opportunity.  In addition, the combination strengthens Synaptics’ wireless connectivity portfolio by adding DECT ULE, which enables a fully-featured intelligent home security solution.

Ofer Elyakim, CEO of DSP Group, said of the acquisition (which expected to complete by the end of the year), AI “Our complementary portfolios together with the combination of our world-class engineering teams creates an exciting opportunity for DSP Group’s core technology to extend further into our existing customers’ product portfolio.”

The IoT business is a significant part of Synaptic’s growth strategy, so diversifying into integrated vision and voice with low power edge AI is clearly going to add to its offer. In its slides announcing the acquisition of DSP Group, Synaptics said there is a $2 billion addressable market in low power edge AI for applications ranging from low power far field voice to smart home, smart retail, industrial manufacturing and other areas like agriculture, transportation, and utilities.

Synaptics DSP Group combined portfolio slide
Synaptics believes its acquisition of DSP Group will enhance its ability to sell integrated voice, vision and edge AI across its portfolio of customers. (Source: Synaptics)

The company was already seeing its IoT business grow, as reflected in its recent fourth quarter results ending 26 June 2021, during which Hurlston said, “Our IoT business has grown significantly with revenue in this category now contributing more than 50% of our quarterly sales.”

In outlining the company’s low power edge AI initiative for IoT, he added, “While still early in the cycle, we believe many devices in the future will continue to get smarter than they are today by incorporating machine learning and AI technologies on the device itself rather than relying on the cloud. We see opportunities and have already begun deploying advanced AI algorithms into many of our new products across all our markets such as neural network-based fingerprint matching, advanced AI-based face detection in tablets and smartphones, and AI-assisted video compression algorithms. We are also seeing broad initial interest in our Katana platform which is our standalone AI offering that targets low power battery operated applications. It is our belief that many of these intelligent edge use cases will become a significant opportunity for Synaptics over the long term.”

In July 2020, Synaptics completed the acquisitions of DisplayLink for $305 million, and the assets and manufacturing rights associated with the wireless IoT business of Broadcom for $250 million.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Nitin Dahad is a correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also Editor-in-Chief of embedded.com. With 35 years in the electronics industry, he’s had many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and from entrepreneur to startup mentor and government advisor. He was part of the startup team that launched 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the US in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced much of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He’s also worked with many of the big names—including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor and Marconi Instruments.

 

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