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Qualcomm Closes Deal for Cambridge Silicon, Bracing for Internet of Things

Qualcomm is gearing up for the Internet of Things era. On Thursday, the San Diego-based company completed its $2.4 billion acquisition of Cambridge Silicon Radio, a fabless chipmaker that specialized in wireless networking. The deal was the second largest in the company's history.

In the deal, Qualcomm acquired a wide range of SoC and software products used in mobile phones, connected vehicles, wearables, and other Internet of Things devices. CSR's products include Bluetooth technology, ARM processors, audio codecs, GPS, and MIPS-based imaging devices.

In recent years, the chip industry has experienced a wave of mergers and acquisitions. Many large chipmakers are buying out competitors that specialize in analog and mixed-signal chips, which are especially costly to design from scratch. Earlier this year, Intel purchased networking chipmaker Lantiq and later announced that it would buy Altera for $16.7 billion.

In March, NXP Semiconductor and Freescale merged in a $40 billion deal to improve their standing in a “smarter world.” Other analog and mixed-signal chipmakers, such as Linear Technology and Maxim Integrated, could be next on the block, according to analysts cited in a recent Reuters report.

The CSR acquisition was announced toward the end of last year. It came as Qualcomm began trying to expand its line of ARM processors into new markets, including consumer robotics and data networking. Last year, the company also said that it was developing a data server version of its Snapdragon processor—an effort that aimed to exploit the huge amount of data traffic expected with the Internet of Things. The company has also sponsored a program to integrate its mobile processors into autonomous robots.

The U.K.-based CSR is being renamed Qualcomm Technologies International, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Technologies, the research and development arm of the company. The buyout is the second largest in Qualcomm’s history, following the $3.1-billion acquisition of Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros Communications in 2011.

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