Renesas to Acquire Celeno for $315 Million

Above:President & CEO Gilad Rozen. Photo: Techtime

Renesas Electronics announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Celeno Communications from Raanana (near Tel aviv) for an amount of US$315 million. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close by the end of 2021. The acquisition significantly enhances Renesas’ connectivity portfolio with the addition of Celeno’s Wi-Fi technologies and software expertise.

Celeno offers advanced Wi-Fi chipsets and software solutions, including the most compact chipset for Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. Celeno has developed a unique Wi-Fi Doppler Imaging technology, that provided local radar functionality using its Wi-Fi connectivity chip. The deal is a part in Renesas’ new connectivity strategy which was also culminated with the US$5.9 Billion merger with Dialog in February 2021.

“Renesas is now strongly positioned to capitalize on the growing opportunities from the massive rise in connectivity and requirements created by today’s increasingly connected world,” said Hidetoshi Shibata, President and CEO of Renesas. In addition to expanding the solution offering, the acquisition also increases Renesas’ engineering and design scale with Celeno’s design center in Israel. Techtime has learned that the new center will develop connectivity solutions for the Automotive industry, including V2X chips.

Celeno was established in 2005 by the President & CEO Gilad Rozen. It received US$140 Million investments from high profile bodies such as Cisco, Samsung and major VCs. Its main competitors are Qualcomm, Broadcom and Mediatek. Most of its 170 employees are located in Israel. During 2020 Celeno shipped 15 million chips to costumers, for total sales of US$37 Million.

“Our depth and strength in connectivity combined with Renesas’ industry leading portfolio of embedded solutions will allow us, together, to open up new growth areas we can target,” said Gilad Rozen.” Renesas will also provide us with the go-to-market capabilities to bring Celeno to a broader range of customers.”

Renesas and CEVA to Develop a SoC for ADAS

CEVA from Herzlya, Israel, announced that Renesas has licensed its DSP technology to develop an automotive System-on-Chip (SoC) for a new ADAS system of a  a very large automotive manufacturer in Japan. “This is a monumental agreement”, said Gideon Wertheizer, CEO of CEVA, during the company’s earnings call for Q3, 2020. In fact, this design win put both CEVA and Renesas in a direct competition with Intel’s Mobileye and NVIDIA Drive.

Naoki Yoshida, Vice President at Renesas noted regardin the agreement: “In active safety and self-driving applications, DSP processing is a key IP for processing and segmenting sensor data generated by sensors on vehicles.” This is exactly what CEVA is doing: It provides IPs of Digital Signal Processors, AI processors, wireless platforms and complementary software for sensor fusion, image enhancement, computer vision, voice input and artificial intelligence.

During the conference call, Gideon Wertheizer revealed more interesting details: “The agreement is based on a project. Our customer (Renesas Electronics) won with a very large automotive manufacturer in Japan, for an ADAS solution for new L2+ and L3 cars, which are projected to start production by 2025. It’s a mid-range car, that means volume versus the premium part.”

CEVA is not unfamiliar with the automotive industry: It has Automotive agreements with On Semiconductor, Yamaha, Toshiba, Rohm, AutoTalks and others to provide IP blocks for Wi-Fi, V2X, cameras and more, but becoming a main technology provider for an ADAS system is something else. This is a strategic platform – the playground of giants. And it turns out that the giants may be too big for their clients.

Wertheizer: “NVIDIA and Mobileye push their own closed and vertically integrated solutions. But automotive Tier one and OEMs are seeking an open high-performance technology where they can take advantage of their in-house excellence while not being locked into a certain vendor. Our powerful DSPs, AI technologies and our collaborate business model set a comprehensive foundation that enable OEMs to become supplier agnostic and translate their innovation into a competitive edge.”