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Broadcom swoops for Israeli mobile graphics enhancement firm

The Broadcom acquisition engine appears right now to be insatiable

By PETER WHITE

Published: 2 December, 2010

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The Broadcom acquisition engine appears right now to be insatiable. And after a string of strategic purchases it has now added an image processing specialist on mobile called Sightic Vista from Israel.

It is thought to have paid between $10 million and $20 million, by Israeli newspapers, though Broadcom has only confirmed it has bought the company, which means the price is below the level that would require full reporting because it won’t materially affect the Broadcom results. The deal follows the acquisition of Israeli femtocell chip maker Percello and of WiMAX baseband supplier Beceem a month before, and most recently the powerline chip vendor Gigle from Spain. Back in June Broadcom bought Innovision for its NFC development.

Sightic, founded in 2001, specializes in software and hardware image processing and enhancement, and the integration of these capabilities into very small devices such as miniature digital cameras and camcorders. The solutions include algorithms for processing images and multimedia applications for mobile devices. Broadcom sources said the main interest would be in applying these functions to broader silicon platforms, targeted at smartphones and other multimedia-rich mobile products.

The US firm is battling for a place in the handset space alongside the dominant Qualcomm, and is relying on cramming as many features as possible into its systems-on-chip and associated connectivity products. It has a highly integrated Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPS/FM platform; is making progress in 2G and 3G basebands (and with Beceem, adds 4G); and is experimenting with specialized chips for emerging differentiators like NFC mobile payments and now image processing.

Sightic was funded by private investors, not venture capital funds and is just into its first revenues, with its customers including Samsung and LG. The company has several dozen employees and is based near Broadcom's own Israeli development center in Yakum.

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