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Mobile/Wireless Components

Marvell Goes Shopping to Sweeten 5G Story

If a business involves moving, storing, processing or securing data, Marvell is interested.

The company said today it has agreed to buy Globalfoundries's ASICs business, a company called Avera Semiconductor, for $650 million in cash. If certain conditions are met in the next 15 months, Marvell could pay another $90 million.

Marvell is a fabless chip company that has product lines in several legacy data storage and networking businesses, but also in newer infrastructure areas like 5G base stations and artificial intelligence.

Already this month, Marvell agreed to acquire Aquantia for more than $400 million to complement its Ethernet switching and data networking business, where it is one of the world's largest suppliers and competes directly against Broadcom.

"Our acquisition of Aquantia will fuel Marvell's leadership in the transformation of the in-car network to high-speed Ethernet over the next decade," said Matt Murphy, president and CEO of Marvell said in a press statement at the time. He noted that Acquantia's emerging multi-gig products would help Marvell create "a leading end-to-end Ethernet connectivity portfolio."

Murphy took over as Marvell's CEO in 2016, right after the company's founders -- Marvell's former president Weili Dai and her husband, former CEO Sehat Sutardja -- were removed from their roles because of an accounting scandal. But, sigh, that was then...

Why this matters
One of Marvell's ambitions today is to be a player in 5G infrastructure, as noted in its many announcements at Mobile World Congress, one of which was an agreement with Samsung to develop multiple generations of processors for 5G and LTE radios.

The Aquantia acquisition was talked up because of its potential to pay off when we get flying (sorry, more data-intensive) automobiles, but it really doubled down on Marvell's legacy. The Avera buy will help it broaden its addressable market, give it more wireless infrastructure opportunities and help extend an already existing relationship with a top full-service foundry.

"With [Avera]'s highly experienced design team and Marvell’s leading technology platform, we will be better positioned to capitalize on our expanding opportunity in wired and wireless infrastructure, starting immediately in the fast-growing 5G base station market," said CEO Murphy in a statement issued today.

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Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

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