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What is Lattice Semiconductor doing in the new Samsung Galaxy S5? [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]
[April 10, 2014]

What is Lattice Semiconductor doing in the new Samsung Galaxy S5? [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]

(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 10--Samsung's hotly anticipated Galaxy S5 phone, out Wednesday, comes with a big, bright screen, a well-received camera, and even it's even waterproof -- well, water resistant, anyway.

It also comes with a chip from Hillsboro-based Lattice Semiconductor. So say the teardown specialists at iFixit, who tore apart an S5 overnight to see what was inside and posted their findings early Wednesday morning.

It's not clear from the teardown what role Lattice's chip plays in Samsung's new device, but iFixit notes this Lattice video, which shows how its iCE40-class of FPGA can give an Android phone infrared capability -- a feature the S5 does have, enabling it to function as a TV remote.

This isn't Lattice's first smartphone win, and not even its first Samsung phone. And Lattice's role in the new device is likely small. Still, Lattice's presence in Samsung's flagship device is yet another indication of how Lattice's fortunes have turned for the better in recent months.

(While Lattice has its headquarters and some engineering functions in Hillsboro, it outsources its manufacturing. iFixit said chip in the S5 was made in Malaysia.) Silicon Forest technology has long been in smartphones, chiefly power amplifiers for connecting to cell phone networks made in Hillsboro by TriQuint Semiconductor. TriQuint chips have been in each of the last several iPhones, and sales to Apple contractor Foxconn provide nearly a third of TriQuint's sales.

But Lattice, which spent the better part of the last decade trying to find anyone to buy its chips, had been less visible. That began to change about four years ago, and the change is now having dramatic results.

Lattice makes programmable computer chips -- FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays), to use the industry term -- which electronics companies can customize to provide a variety of tasks, from monitoring corporate servers and communications networks to adjusting settings in a digital camera.

After years of striving to compete with industry leaders Altera Corp. and Xilinx, Lattice made a strategic retreat under former CEO Bruno Guilmart, who aimed for a middle tier of the market that the big guys wouldn't bother with. His successor, Darin Billerbeck, has mined that approach for Lattice's biggest returns in a decade.

Investors have noticed -- Lattice's share price is at its highest point since 2004, and the company's market value is near $1 billion.

Lattice has been in Nokia devices, too, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. An FPGA isn't, by definition, a key element of the design, and Lattice's inclusion didn't move the stock Wednesday (the stock's down 4 cents this morning, at $8.11.) Nonetheless, it's a prominent win for Lattice and another indicator of the company's revival.

-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; 503-294-7699 ___ (c)2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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