Today an agreement between MediaTek subsidiary Richtek and Intel has been made for Richtek to acquire Intel’s power management solutions and controller product line known as Enpirion. The agreement will enable the sale of the division, subject to regulatory approval, for $85 million, and is expected to close in Q4.

Intel’s Enpirion business has been part of the company under the Programmable Solutions Group, formerly known as Altera, which was acquired by Intel in December 2015 for $16.7 billion. Altera had previously acquired Enpirion in May 2013 for $140 million, indicating a net loss over the seven years.

The Enpirion PowerSoC product line has been a series of system-on-a-chip DC-to-DC power converters, enabling higher power density and lower electrical noise compared to discrete power converter equivalents. The SoC nature also allows for on-the-fly adjustment at the time of delivery. This enables power delivery of a wide array of key products such as FPGAs and ASICs. Enpirion’s product portfolio also includes voltage bus converters, DDR memory terminators, high frequency technology, and 70A power rails.

In various reports, MediaTek has supposedly pointed to Enpirion’s high-frequency and high-efficiency power solutions as a key part of the acquisition, citing MediaTek’s push into enterprise-level system applications. The current belief is that MediaTek is planning to develop its ASIC business in a more serious manner than previously, targeting AI acceleration for hyperscalers.

For Intel, the sale of the Enpirion business clearly isn’t for the money – it sheds a division from the Programmable Solutions Group, allowing them to focus better on growth markets, according to Intel’s official statements. Chances are that Intel has an Enpirion equivalent elsewhere in the company to fill the gap, or might be involved in a purchasing agreement for the ex-Altera products that might use Enpirion. I highly suspect that Intel wasn’t actively marketing the product line for new customers that much anyway, and doesn’t see the market for potential revenue growth.

An Intel spokesperson gave us the following quote for this story:

Intel and Richtek, a subsidiary of MediaTek’s discrete power business, have signed an agreement for Richtek to acquire Intel’s Enpirion FPGA power product line. This transaction will enable Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group to focus on its core FPGA business and increase investment in high-growth opportunities that help position Intel to win key transitions to support 5G, edge computing, artificial intelligence, and the cloud.

If we get a MediaTek statement, we will add it to the article.

It sounds as if the agreement is more for the IP than the people. Update from Intel: Intel has confirmed that the whole business (people + IP) are involved in the acquisition. It will be interesting to see what plans MediaTek has that involve the product line.

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  • chenderit - Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - link

    Regarding the 5G business, the mistake is not selling it to Apple, but holding on it for too long. Should have sold earlier.
  • boozed - Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - link

    I like that this is in the POWER category.
  • Khenglish - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

    Honestly this is sad. Intel is selling itself off despite making enormous profits because the sales boosts stock price slightly for one quarter, while overall this system dooms the company in the log run. Intel was a great innovative company that shaped the world we know today, but now it has management that just wants the company to die as long as the selloffs boost their margins very briefly.

    The most telling moment was in 2016 when Ryzen CPU sales were starting to hurt their bottom line. When the same thing happened in 2003 due to competition with AMD FX CPUs, Intel chose to double down on R&D and just threw way more resources at CPU development that AMD could not match, and came up with the Core 2 Duo and annihilated AMD in performance until Ryzen. When Intel had the same choice in 2016, they instead laid off 15000 employees despite billions in profits per quarter. Swan needs to get lost before this situation is unsalvageable.

    We already lost IBM which today is just a memory of what it once was. As someone into tech my whole life it's just sad to see Intel taking the same path.
  • quorm - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

    I agree that intel does not appear to be moving in a good direction, but this take has multiple issues. I'm not sure that FX really presented much of a problem to intel, rather the problems originated in the athlon/p4 days. Consequently, core was already in development for a number of years, I believe as a successor to the p3 architecture that was more efficient than p4. Second, intel's primary response is to leverage their monopoly position to offset engineering deficiencies, not to engineer their way out of problems. That is again the case now, but it is not working as well as in the past. Intel's problem is their manufacturing, and I have no idea how their ceo and other management let it get so bad.
  • Khenglish - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

    Yeah the original Athlon posed strong competition to the P3 and P4, and the Athlon FX took it a step further to be better than the P4.

    I remember shortly before the C2D people were questioning why didn't Intel just release the pentium M as-is for the desktop market, and the reason why was they were reworking it into the far superior C2D and didn't want to waste the effort on more product launches.

    Being a monopoly is definitely a factor, although most issues with that seem to be rectified. My understanding is that Intel no longer has exclusivity deals, where they would pay companies not to use AMD CPUs. This hurt AMD badly in the late 90s and early 2000's preventing the Athlon from getting the market share it deserved.

    This doesn't change that Intel's response to Ryzen was layoffs. With 10nm issues known for the last 5 years, the rocket lake backport to 14nm should have happened over 2 years ago. The fact that 10nm turned into such a disaster in itself is a major topic. It's something that Intel seems to have masked from investors who flipped out over the 7nm delay, not knowing that 10nm was never truly released.
  • Gracie C. Wilson - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

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