Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Broadcom to Acquire Athena Semi for DVB-H, Wi-Fi

Broadcom agreed to acquire Athena Semiconductors, a fabless semiconductor company that specializes in mobile digital television tuner (including DVB-H) and low-power Wi-Fi technology, for approximately $21.6 million in cash.

Athena Semiconductors, which is headquartered in Fremont, California, developed a CMOS radio transceiver platform suited for (including DVB-H) and low-power Wi-Fi applications. The company has design teams in Bangalore, India and Athens, Greece. The group in India consists of 40 engineers, and the team in Greece consists of 23 engineers.

Broadcom said Athena's technologies would complement its existing mobile and wireless product portfolio, which includes mobile multimedia (including audio, video and 3G graphics), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, VoIP, and 2G/3G cellular baseband solutions. DVB-H allows mobile handset users to view real time transmissions of news, weather, sports, and other video content. DVB-H services are in field trials around the world today.

Broadcom also highlighted the need for low-power Wi-Fi chipsets in a new generation of mobile devices, including cellular handsets, personal media players and handheld video games, for which prolonged battery life is a primary design consideration. Embedded Wi-Fi technology will enable these products with faster Internet services and real time peer-to-peer connectivity. Low-power Wi-Fi devices, when combined with VoIP technology, will also provide a "voice over Wi-Fi" solution.

"Mobile television is a very exciting technology, and we expect that by combining Athena's DVB-H tuner with Broadcom's mobile multimedia technology for H.264 decoding, we will create the core of an industry-leading mobile digital TV chipset," said Robert Rango, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Broadcom's Mobile & Wireless Group.

  • In January 2005, Athena Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics' Digital Media R&D Center announced the first three-transceiver Radio Frequency (RF) device for MIMO in a single integrated circuit (IC). Other products require multiple devices and therefore a larger footprint. The new single-device, called TRINI, leverages the "OptimRF" technology that Athena Semiconductors pioneered to build high performance CMOS RF transceivers at low cost. The newly developed, OptimRF-based three-transceiver ICs, supports data rates far higher than existing 802.11a/g standards-based equipment, increasing from 54 Mbps to more than 200 Mbps.