Biometric authentication specialist Goodix has acquired Dream Chip Technologies, a German fabless semiconductor company...
Goodix Technology Co. Ltd. (Shenzhen, China) announced it has completed the acquisition of Dream Chip Technologies GmbH (Garbsen, Germany) to strengthen its engineering capabilities and diversify its market strategy beyond smart mobile devices to automotive applications. The financial terms of the acquisition remain undisclosed.
In a discussion with EE Times Europe, Peter Schaper, CEO of Dream Chip Technologies, explained the significance of the acquisition and the technology synergies to embark on an autonomous driving journey.
Dream Chip is a design service provider specialized in the development of ASICs, FPGAs, SoCs, embedded software, and discrete systems. Over the years, it has asserted its focus on automotive vision systems. Founded as Sican by the Government of Lower Saxony, Germany, in 1990, the company was bought by Infineon Technologies ten years later. It operated as Sci-worx, and was acquired by Sunnyvale-based Silicon Image in 2006. Dream Chip Technologies was formed after a management buy-out in 2010.
The automotive industry is facing a severe downturn, and the current health crisis has highlighted many weaknesses in the supply chain. “The Covid-19 pandemic is an interrupting event with downsides for the industry, but it also gives a very good opportunity for new suppliers to step in,” noted Schaper.
In the meantime, “car manufacturers are rethinking their strategy with respect to electric cars and autonomous driving. They understand the enormous effort on the software side and already feel the competition from internet giants like Google and Amazon. Also, Tesla is transforming the car into a mobile phone with four wheels.” For that reason, he continued, “car manufacturers and partially tier-ones are putting all their software teams together in a single new organization to be prepared for this competition.”
Goodix is best known for supplying fingerprint sensors and other biometric authentication solutions, as well as ARM and RISC-V microcontrollers and Bluetooth communications chips. In an interview with EE Times Europeearlier this year, David Zhang, founder and CEO of Goodix, outlined the company’s intention to gain a foothold in the automotive sector. He explained, “We will broaden the horizon of our biometric-authentication solution applications in mobile devices, automotive electronics, and smart homes. Our innovative fingerprint solution for automotive, for example, is expected to introduce a brand-new smart driving experience, with its leadoff commercialization in a prominent automobile brand soon.” Goodix has indeed placed its in-car fingerprint authentication system in the Lynk & Co 05 coupe SUV. The system enables a one-press login and access to customized driver profiles, settings, and smart locks.
With Dream Chip’s strong focus on autonomous systems, Goodix aims to extend its reach in the automotive sector and address the upcoming demands for computing power hungry SoCs supporting autonomous driving as well as comfort features in cars.
Back in 2017, Dream Chip developed the SDIP platform. “It is a complex SoC with multiple ARM processors and Tensilica DSPs as well as functional safety features based on the 22nm FDSOI process of Global Foundries, which was the basis for several automotive chips,” Schaper said. In 2019, Dream Chip worked on an 8nm node for an automotive SoC platform. It is now available for upcoming projects.
“Almost all giants in the automotive industry are developing their own artificial intelligence capabilities, which they want to see as part of their own solution, but these companies have no experience on how to develop such big SoCs.” Schaper believes that Dream Chip’s vision technology and experience in designing large SoCs combined with Goodix’s background in delivering billions of chips to the mobile phone industry brings a solid offering to the market.
Before the acquisition, Dream Chip was focused on the development of complex SoCs for customers only. With the support of Goodix, the German-based company can “not only design such chips up to GDSII, but also produce and deliver those chips to their customers.” Schaper said Dream Chip is currently working with car manufacturers and tier-ones to identify the right projects and products where their combined technologies would fit.
This article was first published on EE Times Europe