NXP buys IP company to bolster in-car networking
The primary rationale in buying OmniPHY was its technology expertise and market position in the field of high-speed Ethernet for automotive applications – the Californians are said to be a pioneer in this field; its product portfolio includes 15 IP Ethernet IP families including the 100Base-T1 and 1000Base-T1 standards. Since autonomous driving will require massive data communications among a vast array of sensors and processing units inside the car, powerful network systems will be indispensable for the implementation of vehicles driving at level 4 or 5 of the autonomy scale. According to Toni Versluijs, Managing Director, NXP Semiconductors, one can expect bandwidth requirements exceeding 1 Gigabit per second for such networks – and, thanks to OmniPHY, NXP will be able to deliver. “We clearly see 100Base-T1 and 1000Base-T1 as the next wave, but in the foreseeable future the demand will exceed this mark,” Versluijs said. “There are several solutions out there, many developments are going on at entities like IEEE or MIPI alliance”.
Current plans for next-gen vehicles call for eight or more cameras, high-resolution radar, lidar and V2X communications. All of these features generate high amounts of data; today’s in-car networks including CAN FD, Flexray and the like are therefore facing steep challenges. Solutions are expected to come from OmniPHY with technology synergies focusing on 1.25-28 Gbps PHY designs; for less demanding applications in the car, he company also offers 10 and 100 Mbit Ethernet IP – for these bandwidth levels however, the company has IP for rather advanced semiconductor processes. And while OmniPhy’s focus is on automotive applications, they also have broader experience, Versluijs explained. Which will enable NXP to strengthen its competitiveness also in industrial and potentially consumer markets.
Unlike Intel, who acquired IP-rich chip company Mobileye and continued the company under its established brand name, OmniPHY will be completely integrated into the NXP group. “We found them extremely good, competent people”, Versluijs commented. Is there a roadmap for the integration? Yes, but at the time of the announcement, the integration will already be “well on its way”, as Versluijs put it.
So everything at NXP looks like business as usual. But wait, wasn’t there recently a headline-pounding incident? The failed merger with Qualcomm, planned well in advance and carefully communicated? Versluijs refused to explain how NXP’s perspectives might have shaken by the unexpected cancellation. On September 11, the corporate government will explain its thoughts at the opportunity of an investor meeting, Versluijs said. However, especially in the area of networking technology, not much would have changed for NXP anyway, he said. “We did not plan to rely a lot on Qualcomm. In the merged company, the expertise in this field would have been contributed by NXP anyway.”