Samsung Buys Wireless Technology, Patents From UK-based CSR

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Samsung Electronics will pay US$310 million to buy technology and patents from U.K. chip design company CSR, strengthening Samsung's chip offerings in the area of wireless connectivity.

The TV, smartphone and memory chip maker, based in Suwon, South Korea, will gain access to CSR's handset connectivity and location technologies, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, as well as 21 U.S. technology patents and 310 employees.

Samsung will also buy an equity stake in CSR for $34.4 million. The Cambridge-based company currently supplies location-tracking chips for Samsung's smartphones and tablets.

The deal will strengthen Samsung's in-house components business, including its Exynos family of SoCs, or system-on-chips, which are used in its Galaxy S III smartphone, analysts said. Samsung also relies on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors for use in other devices.

An SoC is a chip that includes multiple components, such as a processor and wireless receiver, on a single piece of silicon. Combining the components helps reduce space and power consumption in mobile devices.

"Samsung is pursuing a 'complete platform strategy' to capture more value per design-win, as it [currently] lacks some technology pieces," said Sravan Kundojjala, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, in an interview via Twitter.

Buying CSR fills a gap in its portfolio of connectivity chips and will potentially reduce its dependence on outside suppliers, he said.

Just last month Samsung bought Nanoradio, a Swedish company that develops energy-efficient chipsets for Wi-Fi. The acquisitions put pressure on other wireless chip makers such as Broadcom, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, Kundojjala said.

They too are making acquisitions, however. Qualcomm bought wireless chip maker Atheros last year, allowing it to improve the Wi-Fi capabilities of its SoCs, and Samsung is looking for similar gains, Kundojjala said.

As well as making chips for its own handsets, Samsung supplies components to third parties such as Apple for use in its iPhones and other devices.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. After it closes, CSR will focus on areas such as voice and music, in-car "infotainment," imaging and indoor location technologies, it said.

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