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Apple in talks for $479M stake in Japanese chipmaker Renesas SP Drivers - report

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Apple could be on the verge of bringing another important hardware component in-house as the company is reportedly working on a deal to acquire controlling interest in Renesas SP Drivers, a Japanese firm that makes LCD chips for Apple's iPhone.




Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has offered $479 million for Renesas's 55 percent stake in Renesas SP Drivers, according to Japanese business news agency Nikkei. Renesas SP Drivers is a joint venture between Japanese chipmaker Renesas, Sharp and Taiwanese manufacturer Powerchip.

Sharp, which owns 25 percent of the venture, would also likely sell its stake to Apple if the Renesas transaction is finalized, the publication says. Most of Renesas SP Drivers's 240-odd employees are expected to stay with the company in the event of a sale.

Renesas SP Drivers is said to be the sole supplier of LCD chips for Apple's iPhones, perhaps an indicator of why Apple wants greater control. These components play an integral role in determining the display's overall clarity and quality, an increasingly important differentiator for mobile devices.

If the deal goes through, it would be the largest known acquisition in Apple's history, surpassing the $404 million paid for NeXT in 1997 in a landmark transaction that brought Steve Jobs back to the company he founded.
post #2 of 28
Wow!
post #3 of 28

it could allow them to put the technology into their own SOC thus eliminating another component on the board and allowing them to make smaller products.

post #4 of 28

Do it!

 

Apple's acquisitions are rarely "newsworthy" like Nest, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.  But they are substantially more significant.

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post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

it could allow them to put the technology into their own SOC thus eliminating another component on the board and allowing them to make smaller products.

I agree.  This is a very big deal.

post #6 of 28
I'd like to see them buy more of Imagination.
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

it could allow them to put the technology into their own SOC thus eliminating another component on the board and allowing them to make smaller products.

While this acquisition would give Apple more control over the driver technology, and eliminate one level of margin, it would not allow integration of the driver into the SOC. The number of interconnects is simply too high. LCD driver chips are generally mounted on the LCD itself. For a 640x960x3 display, you'd need a minimum of 2880 conductors leading from the SOC to the display edges. It's more space efficient to carry the video stream from the SOC to the LCD serially.

post #8 of 28
Apple is doomed!
post #9 of 28
Important for controlling LCD panels? How big can these panels get?

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post #10 of 28
I wonder if Renesas SP Drivers is working on OLED display controller chips.
If they are, the purchase would be a whole lot more interesting. Hmmm.

Oh, and Apple has done bigger deals. The GT Advanced sapphire deal is for $578 million.
But that isn't an acquisition.

And another random thought: who says the Renesas SP Drivers technology is for mobile devices?
Maybe Apple could continue using LCD panels on iMacs, Thunderbolt Displays, and possibly
an Apple-branded 4K display, with Renesas chips. And maybe (eventually) they'll roll out OLED-based
technology on their mobile iOS devices first, where battery life is crucial. Of course, that won't happen
until cost, quality, and longevity issues are all ironed out.
Edited by SockRolid - 4/1/14 at 12:10pm

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post #11 of 28
They paid 500mm for Anobit. This seems like a similar acquisition. Technology tuck in that likely quickly pays for itself.
post #12 of 28

The fact that Apple always acquires companies I've never heard of means they do their fucking research and are acquiring technology they truly believe will enhance and help them in the long term, not over-spending countless billions on the latest fad. 

 

Also, Apple should just go ahead and buy ARM. Yes, it would be a massively expensive purchase, but I have a feeling they can afford it (probably the only tech company who could), and it would truly **** everyone else over. 

post #13 of 28
God Apple please buy 53! Please...

And here a completely crazy idea! Buy Black Magic Design, build a new Color Mac app using DaVinci Resolve and build an Apple version of the BCC from the ground up with an aluminium unibody that runs a variant of iOS and is designed to work hand-in-hand with FCPX and sell it to young, upcoming filmmakers for €999 and you'll ignite a filmmaking revolution and sell millions of these things. It would also sell a tonne more high end computers for them I'd bet.

If there's one thing filmmaking needs it's technical simplification and were Apple at all focused on doing something like that I'd bet it'd make filmmaking really interesting to a lot of people. They could dedicate a good portion of the pro sections of their stores to filmmaking. It'd be incredible.
Edited by Ireland - 4/1/14 at 12:28pm
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

The fact that Apple always acquires companies I've never heard of means they do their fucking research and are acquiring technology they truly believe will enhance and help them in the long term, not over-spending countless billions on the latest fad. 

Also, Apple should just go ahead and buy ARM. Yes, it would be a massively expensive purchase, but I have a feeling they can afford it (probably the only tech company who could), and it would truly **** everyone else over. 

If ARM made the chips they were to use in their products I would agree but since they only need to buy the reference designs which they can then manipulate in the amazing ways we've read about with Cyclone yesterday I don't see such a purchase providing any longterm support to Apple's bottom line.

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post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
 

Also, Apple should just go ahead and buy ARM. Yes, it would be a massively expensive purchase, but I have a feeling they can afford it (probably the only tech company who could), and it would truly **** everyone else over. 

You mean RE-acquire ARM. Apple was one of the 3 original companies that founded ARM as a joint venture, but had reportedly since sold off their share of the company.

post #16 of 28

If you're Apple, you use your cash to solidify your position.
If you're Icahn, you use your cash to pad your position.

 

Sorry if it isn't relevant to the OP, but I'm still steamed by his old-school shareholder thinking, especially when juxtaposed to the thinking that grew Apple into the market leader it is today. 

post #17 of 28

April fools!  LOL.  Good one, AI.

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

God Apple please buy 53! Please...

And here a completely crazy idea! Buy Black Magic Design, build a new Color Mac app using DaVinci Resolve and build an Apple version of the BCC from the ground up with an aluminium unibody that runs a variant of iOS and is designed to work hand-in-hand with FCPX and sell it to young, upcoming filmmakers for €999 and you'll ignite a filmmaking revolution and sell millions of these things. It would also sell a tonne more high end computers for them I'd bet.

If there's one thing filmmaking needs it's technical simplification and were Apple at all focused on doing something like that I'd bet it'd make filmmaking really interesting to a lot of people. They could dedicate a good portion of the pro sections of their stores to filmmaking. It'd be incredible.

 

It would be nice if Apple bought a controlling interest in RED. (www.red.com)

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post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post
 

April fools!  LOL.  Good one, AI.

The chances of this being a hoax are relatively slim, although it's something I considered myself.

 

The original report came from Nikkei, a respected Japanese business daily. We're not talking about Digitimes or BGR.

 

April Fool's pranks are not widespread in Japan. Moreover, the actual Nikkei article was posted on April 2nd at 2am local time (JST).

 

If it ends up being a hoax, it's a damn good one, since it involves the partial acquisition of a business unit that deals with decidedly obscure technology (not a name brand consumer company). Also, it's pretty gutsy to engage in this charade the day after the actual prank day.


Edited by mpantone - 4/1/14 at 2:31pm
post #20 of 28
Is Apple buying Renesas so they can offload the LCD computational load from the Ax SoC allowing the developer to code to one 'standard' display?

Apple's Renesas chip would take that std display output stream and adapt it to the actual display of the device, whatever its native resolution.

Perhaps Apple is creating a pdf display driver at last.
post #21 of 28
Wonder how Apple going to pay for this...in Yen? The co. would have to have a sizable chuck of it with only their Iphone sales in Japan. It would seem a good way to spend some of the ex-US cash they are accumulating.
post #22 of 28

Apple may want control of the LCD driver chip so it can incorporate new technologies to drive Quantum Dot displays.

post #23 of 28

Half of Japan is radioactive. I wouldn't buy anything there that I couldn't quickly move offshore. Since patents and designs can be easily moved Apple should keep everything up to date and in the USA. If they needed to they could duplicate the hardware in the USA.

 

According to several scientists if there is another explosion at the Fukushima plant while they are repositioning the spent fuel rods and the unused fuel rods (which is estimated to take almost three years starting last October) Japan will be totally irradiated and the cloud from the explosion (even a small one) will blow to the west coast of North America. They said all of the western side of North America would need to be evacuated. They didn't mention how far inland but it would be all of California, Oregon, and Washington.

 

This explosion wouldn't be a Hiroshima size explosion. It would just need to be a small reaction that exploded the building and released the radioactive debris and steam. That would be enough to kill everybody in Japan within a few weeks. Apple's California campus 1 would be ruined within a week once the trade winds brought the toxins to the USA.

 

What is the likelihood of this happening? Considering there is over a 95% chance of a 7.0 earthquake in Japan happening within the next three years the odds are not good for Japan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTqzqoKMLEg

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

Apple may want control of the LCD driver chip so it can incorporate new technologies to drive Quantum Dot displays.

Your response triggered a memory about this. Here is a patent link... http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2014/02/quantum-dots-could-take-the-retina-display-to-the-next-level.html#more.

We all will have to wait to see what Apple does if the purchase is successful.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


(Post 21)

Well, so it goes. Karma is a stern mistress.

As a resident of California, I would be glad that we would have more warning than was given to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

If what you report on here is for real, it should be a priority project for the whole world to do whatever it would take to lessen the danger. Maybe particularly the US.
Edited by Flaneur - 4/2/14 at 12:46am
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I'd like to see them buy more of Imagination.
I second that
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

Apple may want control of the LCD driver chip so it can incorporate new technologies to drive Quantum Dot displays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

Your response triggered a memory about this. Here is a patent link... http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2014/02/quantum-dots-could-take-the-retina-display-to-the-next-level.html#more.

We all will have to wait to see what Apple does if the purchase is successful.

When I read the story, my first thought was that Apple has some changes they want to make but don't want to let the changes get out of their hands by farming it out to an outside vendor... This way Apple can incorporate differentiating technology into the drivers and keep it under wraps until they ship it, and make it harder to knock off/reverse engineer.
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post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post
 

You mean RE-acquire ARM. Apple was one of the 3 original companies that founded ARM as a joint venture, but had reportedly since sold off their share of the company.

 

@sessamoid: Yes, Apple's main contribution in that joint venture was, however, mostly financial.  When Steve Jobs came back, he sold off non-essential business units to save money and gradually sold its entire share of ARM between 1998 and 2004.

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