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Altair Semiconductor Changes Its Name to Sony Semiconductor Israel

By Arti Loftus

Israel-based Altair Semiconductor announced recently that it is in the process of changing its name to Sony Semiconductor Israel, Ltd. while maintaining the "Altair" branding for the company's cellular IoT product line. The change comes four years after Sony Corporation's acquisition of the company. 

AI and the rise of automated systems has been a fundamental drive for the company, whose R&D efforts address the growing need for edge computing. "We expect to see great innovations in the field of IoT and Sensing as we continue to make it easier for machines to talk to each other and to build AI capabilities directly into our Semiconductors and Solutions,” said Terushi Shimizu, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation Representative Director and President, and CEO.

"We have been honored to be part of Sony for the past four years, playing a key role in the company's core business," Sony Semiconductor Israel CEO Nohik Semel said. "To better reflect our long-term commitment to our partners and customers, as well as the quality of our offering, we have decided to change Altair's company name to Sony."

Sony Semiconductor Israel offers globally certified cellular IoT chipsets. The chipset’s micro size uses LTE connectivity, keeping power consumption low and enabling prolonged battery life. They are serving customers across a myriad of IoT applications, including smart meters, vehicle telematics devices, personal, logistical, and pet trackers, and connected wearable devices.

According to a Markets and Markets report on Cellular IoT; the cellular IoT market, also known as Mobile IoT,  is expected to grow from $1.26 billion in 2015 to $5.31 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 23.34% during the forecast period of 2016 to 2022.

With 5G NR technology now available in some regions, new forward compatible network technologies, namely NB-IoT and LTE-M have been developed and optimized to support Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN), specifically designed for IoT applications that are low in cost, use low bandwidth, increase range, but require long battery life and can operate from hard to reach environments, i.e. a smart meter which only needs to send data intermittently.

As part of Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation's Intelligent Vision Sensor IMX500/IMX501 announcement in mid-May, Sony Semiconductor Israel reported that they had developed the AI Digital Signal Processor (DSP). This new solution was developed to reach equilibrium for the need of a powerful AI engine held within a limited physical space that utilizes low power consumption, in turn creating the world's first image sensor with built-in AI processing.

This chip is dedicated to AI signal processing, along with memory for the AI model, which removes the need for any additional hardware, i.e., processors or external memory that could make it a perfect fit for AI edge platforms.

Two versions of the intelligent vision sensors with AI processing capabilities will be made available. The earlier press release states, "Including AI processing functionality on the image sensor itself enables high-speed edge AI processing and extraction of only the necessary data, which, when using cloud services, reduces data transmission latency, addresses privacy concerns, and reduces power consumption and communication costs."

Sony Corporation announced the acquisition of Altair Semiconductor for $212 million in 2016. Founded in 2005 by three former Texas Instrument executives, Israel-based Altair makes chips that connect devices to LTE and its technology has contributed to the development of Sony’s Internet of Things business.

In addition to smartphones, LTE is increasingly used to connect objects including fitness trackers, home appliances, and sensors. LTE is growing in popularity given that it is not only low power but can also be used to connect many devices at once, making it an attractive option for large deployments that need to scale. Devices can use existing LTE infrastructure, including networks owned by carriers, making it cost-effective to deploy.

Sony’s investment in Altair helped the company compete against Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia, all companies who continue to collaborate on Narrow Band-LTE (NB-LTE), which in turn competes with Narrow-Band Cellular IoT (NB-CIoT) from Huawei and Vodafone.

Sony Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Konan, Minato, Tokyo. The company owns the largest music entertainment business in the world, the largest video game console business and the second largest video game publishing business, and is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic products for the consumer and professional markets, and a leading player in the film and television entertainment industry.

Sony is among the semiconductor sales leaders and as of 2015, the fifth-largest television manufacturer in the world by annual sales figures.

Sony Corporation is the holding company of the Sony Group which is engaged in businesses through its seven operating components: electronics (A/V, IT & communication products, and medical business), video games, motion pictures (movies and TV shows), music (record labels and music publishing), semiconductors (image sensors), financial services (banking and insurance), and others.

The subsidiaries of Sony Corporation include Sony Electronics, Sony Semiconductor Solutions, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sony Financial Holdings, and more.

Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Special Correspondent

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