Texas Instruments selling OMAP division

Laying down their ARMs

TI LogoWord has reached SemiAccurate that Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) is hip-deep in the process of selling off their ARM/OMAP division. Given where the division is now, one of the few key players in the high end ARM space, now seems like a very good time to sell.

TI’s OMAP5 CPU is likely to be the first A15 based CPU out of the gate, and has semi-official Google blessings for the next tablet/phone/whatever is in this week for Android device, so the company is riding high. If you are going to pawn off a chunk of your business, now is about as good a time as any. Without being too specific, we are confident that the sale process is well under way, it isn’t just a rumor.

That brings up the biggest question, who is buying? The players that have been mentioned to SemiAccurate are Intel, AMD, ATIC, Nvidia, and a long list of other interested parties. We think any player with an ARM chip in process now would not be a good candidate, but some have pretty sparse roadmaps, so you never know.

Intel is an obvious one, but we consider this unlikely. Intel had, and sold, a top notch ARM division. Their new play in the space, Atom, is the biggest challenger to the ARM camp, and Intel buying OMAP would be an admission of defeat. In fact, Intel putting out any ARM chip at all, other than the ones they are currently making (Oh go look it up, Google works you know), would likely end Atom as a serious product. Don’t hold your breath on this happening.

The other seriously mentioned candidate is AMD, ATIC, or some combination of both. This one makes a bit of sense, especially if you buy the thought process that AMD is without a consumer electronics strategy, and needs an ARM chip. AMD had one. AMD sold one. AMD has a tablet chip. AMD does have a consumer electronics strategy, and if you understand it, you won’t ask nearly as many silly questions on the topic. Heck, AMD owns all three next gen console GPUs, so it’s hard to say they don’t understand the space.

The problem is, why would AMD want OMAP? AMD proper probably doesn’t, but ATIC could do quite a bit with the division, including getting them cutting edge process tech, and throwing money at them. Global Foundries could even license OMAP based IP to third, or would it be fourth at this point, parties. ATIC buying OMAP has a lot of synergies, and would only tangentially involve AMD too.

From there, the list gets very long. TI has a world class ARM line with their OMAP division, and consistently delivers good if not great products. That has a lot of value to many organizations, and phone companies like Nokia, a long time TI partner, HTC, and even Apple might be a good fit. There is no shortage of candidates, but the list right now is likely very short, if not one long.S|A

Updated August 19th, 2011 6pm

Texas Instruments contacted S|A today and provided the following statement:

“We’re aware of recent speculation in the press about the sale of our OMAP business, and want to set the record straight. To be clear, these are rumors, plain and simple. They are not true, and were not started by TI. TI remains committed to our core Wireless business, which encompasses the OMAP applications processors and wireless connectivity solutions. And, we are committed to helping our customers succeed in the marketplace.”

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate