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Google Acquires Chip Maker Startup Agnilux 150

Posted by timothy
from the keeping-up-with-the-jobses dept.
bobwrit points out a story at PC Magazine, from which he extracts "Google has purchased Agnilux, a secretive chip house made up of engineers who architected the heart of the iPad, then left the company. Reuters' PEHub reported the story Tuesday night. A Google spokesman also confirmed the acquisition to 'We're pleased to welcome the Agnilux team to Google, but we don't have any additional information to share right now,' a Google spokesman said Tuesday night via email."
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Google Acquires Chip Maker Startup Agnilux

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  • by alfredos (1694270) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:24PM (#31929316)
    I can feel a lawsuit coming...
  • by StCredZero (169093) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:26PM (#31929378)

    I wonder if Google just absconded with the real value in the chip company?

  • by Orga (1720130) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:27PM (#31929400)
    Apple has a good handle on their vertical, from hardware to content. Google is just beginning its jump into the hardware portion. I imagine this is just another rung in the ladder from the bottom to the top, control all the way.
  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:29PM (#31929446)

    With everyone saying ARM is so efficient how are we to know that Google is not investing in ARM to make more energy efficient ARM based servers?

  • "architected"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:30PM (#31929486)

    I did not know "architect" could be used as a verb. Let me try: Frank Gehry architects buildings for a living. Emperor Palpatine tried to architect the downfall of the rebels.

  • Servers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imgod2u (812837) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:36PM (#31929610) Homepage

    Google has been spending a lot of effort -- from custom power structures inside their buildings to buying that magic box that generates power form minerals to custom-making their own server blades -- to reduce power and make energy efficient servers; they have so many of them after all.

    These guys, while formerly PA Semi, focused their new business on energy-efficient server CPU's. So I wouldn't so much expect a gPad. It's likely the consumer will never see the chips that are being produced here.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:39PM (#31929670)

    Google's famous for being a risk taker. They try a ton of stuff and keep what seems to work. It keeps them fluid. The search engine game was good for them for a long time but they seem to get the hint that the way of the world is "innovate or die", so they're branching out. Gmail/Google Apps and the Android seem to be working out for them pretty well.

    I think that this branching out is just a sign of a company doing the right thing and keeping active rather than resting on it's laurels.

  • Re:Servers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:46PM (#31929796)

    It's also unlikely that Google would ever see a ROI from purchasing an entire semi-conductor company just to save a bit of money on the chips in their own servers. They're planning on marketing these to SOMEONE. They might be part of servers, or they might be part of a pad (I think Android-based pads are an inevitability myself - it's just a question of if these will power them or not). Heck they might be part of a set-top box or something else, but they are definitely planning on selling these chips as part of commercially marketable products.

  • Different Take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JackSpratts (660957) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:55PM (#31929954) Homepage
    the times has a different spin. it's not chips so much as low-power hardware/software integration google's paying for. []
  • by Andy Dodd (701) <> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:11PM (#31930224) Homepage

    Um, Google didn't design that. HTC did. It's not very different at all from HTC's Windows Mobile products.

    Even the Nexus One isn't a Google design - it's an HTC phone carrying Google branding. (Which is very common, HTC has ALWAYS been very rebranding-friendly, it is only very recently that you started seeing the HTC brand in the United States even though HTC phones have been in the USA for quite a while.)

  • by alfredos (1694270) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:32PM (#31930590)


    Apple probably doesn't care if they go on their own way and have a great success, say, making chips for controlling A/C units. But going to Google, whom they see as a big ship in collision course with them, can't end up in a happy "we're all friends" ending, can it?

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:47PM (#31930900) Homepage Journal

    Going back to my question, if this was feasible, why hasn't it been done before?

  • by Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:49PM (#31930942) Journal

    I thought such non-compete clauses were void in the state of California? I don't see how they could get sued.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:06PM (#31931290) Journal
    Because you need custom silicon. The people who make ARM SoCs are not in the server market. They'd need to design a new SoC for that market, and they'd then need to persuade system builders to use it. It's a lot more effort than just buying an off-the-shelf x86 chip and using that and it's a lot higher risk because you are assuming that there is a market for ARM-based servers. It makes sense for a company like Google, because they know there is a market for whatever hardware they produce; themselves. They can buy an A9 license from ARM, get some custom bits added to a SoC, and get a company that owns some fabs to run off a few hundred thousand of them, and it's worthwhile.
  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inKubus (199753) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:19PM (#31931512) Homepage Journal

    Seems smart. Why am I paying for (and paying to power) this Intel floating point unit when I'm only serving web pages?

    But, Google's growth has been perpetuated by use of cheap commodity hardware, ie: profiting off the fact that the rest of us drive the price down by buying lots. A switch to specialized chips would mean a new direction for the company.

    I mean, they could have done this from the beginning with fancy IBM or SUN or Unisys mainframe stuff, which typically allow you to configure IO subsystems (which is the main bottleneck of web serving). Likewise if they are doing database stuff you'd want a lot of RAM and wide I/O bandwidth, 128 bits or more. All standard for a long time on IBM stuff. But it's expensive, not commodity. Even Google's 100-300K servers (or maybe it's a million now, who knows) is not going to bring the scale of the whole worldwide market for Intel chips (100M plus annually).

    So I don't see how this could benefit them long-term. Sure, power savings might add up to a lot so it's a good investment. And since they want to be the entire Internet (including your desktop), it's really a matter of energy over all else. But they are definitely going to need to keep adding hardware to keep growing, so that means higher chip expenses upfront. But, if they can spin the same processor into a little home or mobile computer to connect to their services, they might be able to start leveraging this scale thing again. But it seems to be a big risk to get into the manufacturing business.

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