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EETE OCT 2015

Dialog to acquire Atmel for USD4.6bn in IoT push By Paul Buckley U.K.-based Dialog Semiconductor PLC is to buy Atmel Corp. in a $4.6 billion cash-and-stock deal in a move to try and capture a larger slice of the Internet of Things (IoT) market. Dialog sells chips used to manage power in highend smartphones from Apple Inc. and others. Atmel, based in San Jose, Calif., focuses on microcontrollers that provide computing power for many kinds of consumer and business hardware. Jalal Bagherli, Dialog’s chief executive, said the deal will help the company reduce its dependence on a few smartphone makers and acquiring Atmel’s customer base and line of products will make Dialog a major player in chips for connected cars, wearable devices and other networked IoT devices. “We won the second round of bidding,” said Bagherli. The transaction continues a string of combinations in the semiconductor business, where stock prices have been held down by slowing growth and companies see advantages in merging product lines and sales forces. In May Avago Technologies Ltd. agreed to buy Broadcom Corp. for $37 billion with Intel Corp. declaring a $16.7 billion deal to buy Altera Corp. Dialog, based near London in Reading, traces its lineage to 1981 and the European operations of a U.S. company called International Microelectronic Products Inc. Those operations were acquired by auto maker Daimler-Benz AG and later spun out, with Dialog going public on the Frankfurt exchange in 1999. Atmel, founded in 1984, achieves about 70% of the company’s revenue from microcontrollers which are used in applications that include smartwatches, fitness devices and Arduino circuit boards. Atmel also sells chips to help manage sensors and touch screens in smartphones and tablets. Bagherli pointed out that Atmel has also developed technology to provide security for Internet of Things applications. “That is very, very key for IoT,” said Bagherli. The combined company would have $2.7 billion in annual sales, Dialog said. Atmel actually has more employees than its acquirer - 5,000 to about 1,500, because Atmel operates factories to manufacture some of its chips. Until now Dialog had relied entirely on external manufacturing services. Dialog expects the transaction to result in annual savings of $150 million within two years. The company will fund the takeover with existing cash, new debt and shares. Both companies’ boards of directors have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. Imec laminates stretchable LED display onto garments By Julien Happich Researchers from Holst Centre (set up by TNO and imec), imec and CMST, imec’s associated lab at Ghent University, have demonstrated what they claim to be the world’s first stretchable and conformable thin-film transistor (TFT) driven LED display, laminated into textiles. Marking a step forward in wearable electronics, the conformable display is very thin and mechanically stretchable as it relies on imec’s patented stretch technology (flexible meander interconnects) connecting standard silicon LEDs as many small hard islands. A fine-grain version of the proven meander interconnect technology was developed by the CMST lab at Ghent University and Holst Centre, demonstrating LED displays with a LED pitch of 1mm, with 0.5mm meanders and 0.5mm LED islands. “The current limit is in the size of available LEDs”, conceded Hanne Degans, talking on behalf of imec, adding “stretchability is compromised by a lower LED pitch and larger LED islands. Switching to smaller, bare-die LEDs extends the usability of the meander technology”. The LED displays are fabricated on a polyimide substrate and encapsulated in rubber, allowing the displays to be laminated in to textiles that can be washed. Importantly, the technology uses fabrication steps that are known to the manufacturing industry, enabling rapid industrialization. So, is imec working on displacing these silicon LEDs with fully printed OLED islands or couldn’t it withstand the heat from the lamination process? We asked. “The integration of OLEDs with textiles and stretchable displays based on OLED technology are being pursued as parallel paths at Holst Centre and imec. The integration of OLED devices in textiles is not limited by the heat from the lamination process”, answered Degans. The world’s first stretchable and conformable thin-film transistor (TFT) driven LED display laminated into textiles developed by Holst Centre, imec and CSMT. 12 Electronic Engineering Times Europe October 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE OCT 2015
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