This week, Facebook announced it had acquired Sonics, Inc., a 3rd Party Semiconductor Intellectual Property (SIP) vendor. Sonics is one of the mainstays of the SIP market for Interconnect SIP, which is used to tie together the multiple tens or hundreds of SIP blocks found on contemporary System-on-a-Chip (SoC) silicon solutions today. Sonics was founded in 1996 and was at the heart of the emerging SoC market in its early years along with ARC, ARM, MIPS, Analog Bits, Virage Logic and many others.
It is no surprise that a company like Facebook, who is designing their own AI-focused SoCs, would purchase a company like Sonics. While no details of this acquisition have been released, some reasoned insights are possible.
Implications for the Market
This acquisition removes a major player for Interconnect SIP from the market. Sonics’ customers must now determine how long Sonics will support them and at what level. It is reasonable to expect these customers will look to other suppliers for their interconnect requirements.
However, Facebook could take the point of view that Sonics will continue to license their existing SIP into the market just as Wave Computing is doing with MIPS CPU cores. Any new products developed for Facebook would not be available to outside companies. While this would relieve Sonics’ existing customer base from having to scramble for a replacement, it is unlikely Facebook would allow new licensing of Sonics products to occur.
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