It’s starting to look like semiconductor companies are intent on eating each other up until only one is left standing. The latest development? The Wall Street Journal reports that Intel is considering making a bid to acquire Broadcom.

Broadcom is the company that’s been trying to initiate a hostile takeover of Qualcomm. And Qualcomm is trying to finalize its acquisition of NXP… which acquired Freescale a few years ago.

Apparently they’re all just characters in a Highlander movie.

It’s unclear at this point if Broadcom’s bid to acquire Qualcomm will actually happen. Qualcomm’s board has repeatedly rejected the offer, claiming that Broadcom’s proposed price for the deal undervalues the company and that government regulators might not look too kindly on the merging of two giants in the semiconductor space.

According to the WSJ, Intel is also worried it would stand to lose if Broadcom succeeds in buying Qualcomm, since the combined company would be a pretty tough rival at a time when Intel is trying to make headway in 5G networking, Internet of Things, and other areas beyond the PC and server chip space where Intel has been the dominant player for many years.

So Intel is said to be watching Broadcom’s takeover bid. If it fails, Intel’s happy. If it succeeds, Intel may try to buy Broadcom so that it doesn’t have to compete with Broadcom.

Or maybe not. This is apparently just one of the possibilities the company is considering. It’d be an expensive proposition, and I’m sure there’d be regulatory challenges to this sort of deal as well.

An alternative could be for Intel to acquire some other smaller companies in order to shore up its business to better compete against a Broadcom/Qualcomm/NXP behemoth.

At this point Broadcom is probably best known for making chips used in networking solutions. Qualcomm makes processors used by many of the world’s most popular smartphones. And Intel dominates the PC and server space.

But the lines between those product categories is getting thinner every day. Qualcomm’s smartphone chips include integrated cellular modems and ARM-based chips are getting powerful enough to be viable as PC chips. Intel, meanwhile, has been trying for years to gain a foothold in the mobile and IoT spaces, both of which represent growth opportunities at a time when PC shipments are stagnant.

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11 replies on “WSJ: Intel considers buying Broadcom… which wants to buy Qualcomm… which is buying NXP…)”

  1. I’m just curious to know what Intel would do of NXP’s PowerPC business. I mean, once they notice it. I’m mean, if it’s still around then.

  2. Speculation Mode:

    Is this all because Intel wants to be a major supplier to the Apple cellphone business either by offering its own chips or more easily by a takeover of Apple’s current major chip supplier Qualcomm if owned by Broadcom? The reason behind this would be that Intel thinks it can compete with its own mobile chips (XMM 7560?) against Qualcomm, but not against the might of Qualcomm owned by Broadcom.

    Is the board at Apple worried by a potential Intel takeover of one of its major chip suppliers?

  3. This is not good. Just look at what happened to RAM and NAND prices as competitors started to drop out of the race.

  4. Coming soon, Arm chips starting from $90 for low end, $140 for midrange and $260 for high end with 3.7% performance improvement annually.

  5. Good article. It raises a lot of points. For example, what would be the benefit to the consumer for Intel to to control that large of a section of the market?
    On one hand I can see the level of quality that we see with Intel chips being translated down to the networking and ARM based CPU markets. Then your left to wonder about the effect that will have on the price point of fore mentioned chips.
    Also, the possibility of seeing high quality AIO chip sets is very interesting. Drivers being unified into single installs for CPU, GPU, networking, and FSB is also an appealing idea. Guess we will just have to watch this to see how it unfolds. I am hoping this is something you continue to follow.

    1. Thanks. “Raises a lot of points” is a kind way of describing “Brad’s caffeine-fueled ramblings on a Saturday morning.”

      But seriously, there are so many implications that it’s hard to figure out where to begin. So obviously I went with the Highlander reference. 🙂

      1. I did enjoy the reference, but it seems worrisome. Intel would actually have a decent mobile division by absorbing by proxy the mobile version of themselves.

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