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.
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