ST-Ericsson asked Samsung to buy them, and Samsung said no

Chances are you’ve never heard of ST-Ericsson, despite the fact that they’ve announced some pretty amazing silicon in the past. Short summary: It’s a joint venture between the French chip company STMicroelectronics and the Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson. It was created to give companies like Qualcomm some competition.

STMicroelectronics is responsible for designing system on chips (SoCs), while Ericsson is tasked with using their radio expertise to create modems. ST-Ericsson’s products were always great, on paper, but the problem was that they always came out too late. Why wait for a 45 nanometer dual core ARM Cortex A9 chip with a bundled HSPA+ modem when Qualcomm will sell you a 28 nanometer dual core Snapdragon S4 today?

The company is in terrible shape right now. Their CEO resigned last week, and last April they announced that they’re going to fire roughly 1,700 people, but now there’s even more bad news. Apparently ST-Ericsson has been shopping themselves around. They asked Samsung if they were interested, but Samsung refused to make an offer.

This tells me two things. One, Samsung is so confident about their chip designers’ abilities that they don’t want help from outsiders. And two, Samsung is working really hard on their own cellular modems. The latter has huge implications because Samsung often has to swap out their chips with Qualcomm’s chips when launching devices in the United States due to a lack of 4G LTE support and a myriad of other technical details that have to do with the network infrastructure side.

But what if Samsung is working on their own modem technology that could very well rival Qualcomm’s stuff? That would indeed be impressive.

Back to ST-Ericsson, I’ll be sad to see them go. It’s pretty much inevitable at this point. The only company I see that would be interested in acquiring them would be AMD, but then again AMD is in such terrible shape right now that they don’t have that kind of money to burn. Plus, think of the hell it would be to coordinate three teams, each in a different country.

Ugh. Not cool.

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  • Hotzigetty

    The US variants of the Note 2 all had Exynos SOCs, and AFAIK supported Band 4 and 17 (not sure about the Verizon or Sprint Models). They probably don’t have a dedicated cellular modem yet, but they’ve managed to integrate qualcomm modems for LTE. But if they did, would it make a difference? Like Nvidia and the Icera modems.

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      I’m sure Samsung wants to be as vertically integrated as possible, which means want to reduce their dependence on Qualcomm.

      • Hotzigetty

        That’s there. Does Samsung make any significant revenue from their semiconductor business (for mobiles) apart from apple? This could boost that too. Besides Samsung and TSMC, which other companies have Fab units?

  • Guest

    1-STE is in this shape tdue to quality of manforce and quality of work.They usually reqruit less man power with high price which proves to be wrong because in current world of competion this is not current
    2-The support for product is bad day by day and is not improving
    3- They are more focus on development with out much focus on testing .so the product loose credential day by day on current market demand.

  • Arun Kumar Singh

    Its going to be hard for any buyer to manage ST-Ericsson. Company has too much European work culture baggage with senior management without any out side exposure .. Lax work style.too many managers too few handson engineers ..

    But apparently its connectivity BU is exciting NVIDIA and Intel … would be interesting to see if they end up buying its wifi and GPS solutions …

  • Guest

    STE will be always remembered as a company who had much hype in the industry than anybody in the wireless semiconductor industry, with the possibility of STE out..now the market will be a oligopoly ruled by 2-3 players…It very bad for the industry…The problem with STE disintegration is that they had the best people in the market..