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Amazon Considering Buying Texas Instrument's Chip Business

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the sale-on-graphing-calculators dept.

Businesses 108

puddingebola writes "From the article, "Amazon is reportedly in 'advanced negotiations' to acquire Texas Instruments' OMAP chip division, bringing chip design for its Kindle tablets in-house, and helping TI refocus on embedded systems. The deal in discussion, Calcalist reports, follows TI's public distancing from its own phone and tablet chip business in the face of rising competition from Qualcomm, Samsung, and others, though Amazon taking charge of OMAP could leave rivals Barnes & Noble in a tricky situation.'"

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From books to computers... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658013)

I am surprised Amazon has survived as long as it did. They seem to be making good business decisions that have kept them afloat for this long.

Big Move (4, Informative)

roidzrus (2739093) | about 2 years ago | (#41658041)

This is a big move for Amazon, especially considering their Kindle doesn't necessarily demand huge amounts of performance, especially not in comparison to the iPad and other high-end Android tablets. I never really thought they would go this way, but now I can't help but wonder if they're going to expand toward phones as well. It seems that they could have just as easily sourced chips from Qualcomm unless they had something huge planned.

Re:Big Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658151)

Heh, did that acquisition of National Semiconductor not go so swell and they need to raise capital now or what?

Seems really short-sighted to me. I think that this ebook stuff is a fad. Maybe a long-lived one but a fad nonetheless. This reminds me of Motorola selling off all of their real industry (e.g. creation of ON Semiconductor) and turning into nothing more than a junk mobile phone company paying manufacturers to make the junk overseas. Motorola used to be the REAL DEAL.

Re:Big Move (3, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41658287)

This reminds me of Motorola selling off all of their real industry (e.g. creation of ON Semiconductor) and turning into nothing more than a junk mobile phone company paying manufacturers to make the junk overseas. Motorola used to be the REAL DEAL.

In other words, copy HPs business model.

Re:Big Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41659035)

In other words, copy HPs business model.

I just see that:
1) release a new phone
2) stop releasing in a month due to sales
3) ???
4) Profit

1) announce plans to discontinue selling books
2) nevermind
3) ???
4) Profit
(I work for HP and you know things are pretty bad when they have to release motivational videos and explanations to why the stock going DOWN is a GOOD thing.)

Re:Big Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664043)

(I work for HP and you know things are pretty bad when they have to release motivational videos and explanations to why the stock going DOWN is a GOOD thing.)

It could be. The stock market tends to reflect the previous 5 days of what a company is doing. Bring in large amount of cash right now in exchange for selling off a crucial piece of the business, great! Nevermind the company will be a worthless piece of garbage in a year or two. The crucial question is whether the stock price is down due to measures that hurt profitability in the short-term, but produce gains in the long term; versus being down due to short-term measures that will make the company worthless in the long-term.

Re:Big Move (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#41658463)

eBook readers are less of a fad and more of an intermediary step between books and tablets. I have a Nook Color, which further blurs the line between the two (it's more of a tablet optimized for reading books and magazines).

Whats the point of an intermediary step? (2)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41658853)

Its not like you need to train on an ereader first before you buy a tablet. They're a fad , nothing more. In 10 years they'll be just another long forgotten footnote in tech history.

Re:Whats the point of an intermediary step? (5, Informative)

boristdog (133725) | about 2 years ago | (#41659187)

Until tablets have a hell of a lot better battery life, e-readers are not a fad. I can take my e-reader on a month-long trip, read a couple hours every day and still be reading on the same charge when I get back. I charge mine once every couple of months.

I think you miss the point that a lot of people use e-readers to read (a book replacement) rather than to surf the web or do e-mail (a computer replacement).

Re:Whats the point of an intermediary step? (5, Insightful)

Beorytis (1014777) | about 2 years ago | (#41660145)

Also...

Until tablets have a hell of a lot better battery life,

and a display that's as comfortable as e-ink

e-readers are not a fad.

Re:Whats the point of an intermediary step? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41659201)

Yeah just like computers and smartphones, eh? Just like how the iPod and iPhone were just fads, right? Anyone who still gives credence to a Slashtard opinion on the long-term future of some piece of technology is a moron. Considering ebooks have been around for 15+ years and seeing steady YoU growth doesn't bode well for your forecast. Fads see super fast growth followed by a decline. Not steady growth for numerous years.

Re:Whats the point of an intermediary step? (4, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41659515)

Its not like you need to train on an ereader first before you buy a tablet. They're a fad , nothing more. In 10 years they'll be just another long forgotten footnote in tech history.

Tablets may be a fad, but they will still be here in ten years.

Oh, you meant e-readers? They exist because they're a fsck-load easier for most people to read on than a backlit LCD, and because losing a $60 e-ink Kindle when you leave it on your chair by the pool is much less disastrous than losing a $600 iPad where you stored all your login passwords.

Not only that, but before long e-ink e-readers will cost less than a hardback book. At that point they become pretty much disposable items.

Re:Whats the point of an intermediary step? (3, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41660313)

The intermediary step is for the *technology*, not the *user*.

Dedicated eBooks have far, far better battery life, and are cheaper and often lighter. That means they work better in many of the use cases for the tech they're replacing, "paper books".

Tablets will eventually be able to encompass those features - they already do, for some people. Eventually. We're close enough that we can see the eReader is just a transitional phase, but it's a necessary stepping-stone.

Re:Whats the point of an intermediary step? (1)

freman (843586) | about 2 years ago | (#41663713)

I bought a tablet first, then went to an eReader - I can tell you I carry the eReader everywhere now, the tablet stays docked at home...

Re:Big Move (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41664391)

There is no 'blur' here.

The main reason ls that LCD SUCKS for reading anything more than a page or two. If you are going to truly read, e-ink is the only way to go and there is no debate on the matter. Thus an LCD 'ebook reader' is a farce and a complete contradiction of terms.

Re:Big Move (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#41664961)

I won't deny that e-ink is superior for hardcore reading, but a good quality LCD screen with an adjustable backlight can make for an enjoyable experience even for hours at a time. Of course, it's much more suited for indoors and low-light situations than e-ink, but that happens to be where 95% of my reading takes place anyway - so I'm able to read from an LCD for longer durations than from e-ink. They're two different technologies aimed at two different usage cases. Sure, a Hyundai Accent can do many of the same duties as an F-150, but each has some that the other is really horrible for; however, there is still a large market for each.

Re:Big Move (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 2 years ago | (#41659367)

This. I just shows, IMHO, how undervalued the entire microelectronics sector is when some dorky try-this-for-a-few-years appliance manufacturer, with no real understanding of or love for hardware design, buys out something like OMAP. Amazon will use this for a few build iterations and then be onto the next thing - as soon as purpose-specific e-readers are permanently subsumed in the functions of ubiquitous general-purpose tablets, nano-phones, iVisors (tm), Droid Druid(tm) subdermal infared modems or whatever the next thing is.

Re:Big Move (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 2 years ago | (#41661995)

I don't know what a subdermal infared modem is, but sign me up! That sounds awesome.

Re:Big Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663747)

was bad enough when TI started buying other companies and castrating them... now it's going to happen to TI :(

Re:Big Move (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41660367)

What makes you think that Amazon is going to stop at ebook readers, or even tablets?

I can easily imagine an Amazon-branded and Amazon-produced smartphone. Same approach - price it at cost, and tie in to services. If you look at Amazon's financial statements, it seems to be working pretty damn well for them, so it makes perfect sense for them to expand it further - and to acquire as much of the supply chain as possible to further drive costs down.

Come to think of it, looks like it might be a good time to pick up some of that AMZN stock...

Re:Big Move (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 2 years ago | (#41659155)

It signals a broader expansion in to consumer electronics. You can only eek out so much performance and battery life from generic hardware.

Re:Big Move (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41659365)

this comment is completely unfounded and totally irrelevant, but god damnit do i support your right to make it!

Re:Big Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663927)

Not really, the OMAP platform has pretty damn impressive battery life, the big issues are the display and wireless capabilities. Buying OMAP from TI isn't going to solve that in any obvious way.

Re:Big Move (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#41660273)

The "Patent Wars" heat up and if you don't think all this and other recent manoeuvring is all about patents and Apple's triggering of the "Patent Wars", then you really aren't paying attention.

Re:Big Move (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 2 years ago | (#41662963)

This is a big move for Amazon. I think this might be them trying to bring hardware in house to make there tablets more high end to compete with the iPad at a cheaper price point.

Re:Big Move (1)

freman (843586) | about 2 years ago | (#41663697)

I didn't even make it through the title without exclaiming "No!"

Re:Big Move (1)

roidzrus (2739093) | about 2 years ago | (#41664253)

Why?

Global TI. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658121)

Not just B&N. A lot of cheap Android tablets use TI.

And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41658123)

Amazon taking charge of OMAP could leave rivals Barnes & Noble in a tricky situation

Also, I believe the BeagleBoard [wikipedia.org] is the SoC OMAP3530 [wikipedia.org] ... not to mention there's a bunch of Samsung products (since it was mentioned that they are "rising competition") that depend on the OMAP4xxx [wikipedia.org] series like the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy Nexus ... lot of BlackBerry devices on that list too. It's not just the Kindle Fire using OMAP4, there's a lot of current devices using OMAP3 & OMAP4.

What's going to happen to all these devices when Amazon decides it doesn't make open source hobby boards or cell phones and condenses these SoCs down to just Kindle-related focus? I guess it'd be stupid to throw away all that business but anybody know what would happen to these?

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (2)

tecmec (870283) | about 2 years ago | (#41658241)

...and the Pandaboard, which is the only device that joe-shmoe can buy off the shelf, download the Android Open-Source Project code, and start developing on instantly. I'm very afraid of how Amazon might ruin the OMAP for the rest of us if they buy it.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#41659779)

Nope... Not even close.

Igloo [igloocommunity.org]
Cubieboard- once they get into production [cubieboard.org]

To be sure...there's more if you look. The big deal about Pandaboard is more that it's very readily available and it's the cheapest in the Cortex-A9 class.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41658509)

Samsung, B&N, Blackberry etc will have no problem switching to another provider, probably Qualcomm. ARM chips from TI are fine, but they are definitely not the only provider, and switching from one to another is mainly a matter of changing drivers. It's not a big deal.

The hobbyists might have more trouble though, although the BeagleBoard is sold under the CC license, and in any case you could switch to arduino possibly, so they won't be completely lost.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41658787)

BeagleBoard isn't even remotely in the same league as Arduino-style products. BeagleBoard is like a PC. Arduino processor boards are like what you might have in a graphing calculator if you're lucky :)

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41662617)

The interesting thing is that Amazon will most likely steer the TI chips towards designs ideally suited for the ereader market. B&N might be most successful buying Amazon chips, if they have the option. Perhaps they ought to focus on differentiating on software, product, and service now.

Amazon probably benefits more from a massive, vibrant ereader market than they would trying to own an entire smaller, more stagnant one, so I bet they do continue to sell to B&N.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (2)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#41658517)

Quite simply, there's enough range of stuff (including the Embedded Sitara based BeagleBone...hint...hint...) that you can lay hands on for that price range right now from alternate suppliers of A8/A9 based SoC's.

It's annoying, but you should be thinking in terms of being able to jump ship to something else on a moment's notice- they're in it for the money and they can drop anything anytime they feel like it. Even if TI doesn't sell this stuff...they could still end up pulling the plug on it all. It's just unlikely if TI's still doing the OMAP stuff- they use BeagleBoards and PandaBoards as internal dev boards for a lot of projects at TI. Now...if Amazon gets the division, it might be a differing story, maybe not- your guess is as good as mine. They've got to get dev boards for their own stuff and before they build out new models- it may be that nothing changes in the medium term because of that fact.

If you're concerned, the Allwinner based devices are a good prospect as is the Igloo which uses the Samsung SoC lineup instead. Worrying about whether or not you're going to lose the Beagleboard/Pandaboard is really kind of fruitless. Go elsewhere if you're concerned.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 2 years ago | (#41660747)

If TI is making a profit off of them, I can't see Amazon not being to make the same or more profit. And if Amazon can make a profit, I don't foresee them dropping the product.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (4, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#41658563)

It should also be noted that if they sell the division, TI or it's successor in interest is OBLIGATED to fufill any obligations for supply lifetime on parts- period. For TI to have gotten the business in the first place, they'd have to guarantee it. It's how that part of the industry works.

I can assure you that the vendors of these devices will have 5-10 year windows on parts that WILL be honored or Amazon and TI would be on the receiving (read: LOSING) end of a nasty breach of agreement lawsuit.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#41658887)

Amazon taking charge of OMAP could leave rivals Barnes & Noble in a tricky situation

Also, I believe the BeagleBoard [wikipedia.org] is the SoC OMAP3530 [wikipedia.org] ... not to mention there's a bunch of Samsung products (since it was mentioned that they are "rising competition") that depend on the OMAP4xxx [wikipedia.org] series like the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy Nexus ... lot of BlackBerry devices on that list too. It's not just the Kindle Fire using OMAP4, there's a lot of current devices using OMAP3 & OMAP4. What's going to happen to all these devices when Amazon decides it doesn't make open source hobby boards or cell phones and condenses these SoCs down to just Kindle-related focus? I guess it'd be stupid to throw away all that business but anybody know what would happen to these?

Amazon seems to be in the business of selling "stuff". Chips are stuff, I don't think they will likely stop selling the chips before they are obsolete. So to reiterate, they'll probably keep selling the chips at least until January 2013.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#41658973)

What's going to happen to all these devices when Amazon decides it doesn't make open source hobby boards or cell phones and condenses these SoCs down to just Kindle-related focus? I guess it'd be stupid to throw away all that business but anybody know what would happen to these?

Amazon NEVER throws away business. Hell, they were a book store that started selling computer time. Also, where do you think most people buy those hobby boards? I found a bunch of them on Amazon... If anything Amazon will make the stuff MORE available, since anything made from those parts will probably end up being sold by them.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661519)

If anything Amazon will make the stuff MORE available

Ah, and perhaps Amazon will market a do-it-yourself tablet kit for the folks on slashdot.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661741)

the BeagleBoard and BeagleBone are not OMAP based. they use an OMAP derivative, but is not OMAP.
the PandaBoard however is based on the OMAP44xx series....

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

prpplague (17497) | about 2 years ago | (#41662043)

just FYI, the BeagleBoard uses an OMAP derivative, not an actual OMAP. The DM335x series is based on the OMAP but is not considered an OMAP.
the PandaBoard however is based on the OMAP44xx series....

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662225)

It's AM335x, not DM335x, but you are correct in that the DM/AM series are not considered 'OMAP' devices from TI's perspective as they fall into the "Single Core MPU" business rather than the "OMAP" business.

- A TI engineer.

Re:And the Beagleboard, Samsung Products, et al (1)

prpplague (17497) | about 2 years ago | (#41662499)

right, forgot DM is with DSP and AM is without.....

What? (4, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about 2 years ago | (#41658143)

Call me ignorant, but since when is Amazon a company that develops hardware?

I know Amazon has a big catalog, but customized / re-branded products aside, aren't they basically a box-moving company? What the *** are they doing in the chip development business? More specifically: what do they expect to do, that a specialist like TI can't do for them?

Re:What? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41658229)

Patents, lots and lots of patents.

Re:What? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41659597)

Patents, lots and lots of patents.

I think you nailed it.

TI's chip business isn't that hot acquisition otherwise.

if it were, TI would hold on to it.

(problems include not being able to ship on date in ~10 years or having the promised performance - bad combo that lead to many manufacturers feeling burnt.)

Re:What? (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41659673)

problems include not being able to ship on date in ~10 years or having the promised performance

I did a few weeks of temp work for TI once. I'm not sure why they pulled us from shipping, but we were looking over circuit boards I believe for routers or something. Some of the chips were on upside down, as in shiny side up, and these has already passed two QC's. That is not what they were having us look for, but it is what I found. They no longer had a need for my services soon after.

Re:What? (3, Informative)

taktoa (1995544) | about 2 years ago | (#41658245)

http://www.eevblog.com/2012/10/15/eevblog-370-kindle-paperwhite-teardown-review/ [eevblog.com]

They're pretty fucking good at hardware

Re:What? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41660013)

Agreed, Kindles are works of art. Amazon is, what Apple pretends to be.

Stop the conversation, intelligence showed up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663475)

Amazon is, what Apple pretends to be.

Admittedly my two cents are coming from an AC so it's worth its weight in bytes, but...

This has to be one of the most insightful things I have seen posted on slashdot in oh.. at least six years.

Pity it's gonna get glossed over instead of recognized for its cleverness.

Re:What? (1)

alexru (997870) | about 2 years ago | (#41663205)

It was not designed by Amazon, it was outsourced to the professional OEM.

Re:What? (4, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#41658355)

Have you heard about the Amazon Kindle? About the only thing you can compare it to in terms of actual units sold is the iPad, so Amazon is in Apple's league. Yes, seriously, Amazon is huge in 'readers' which is a variant of tablets, I suppose as I don't have much experience with them myself.

Just as Google developed the Chrome web browser so as to have direct influence over the presentation of the web, Amazon has created hardware readers to have direct influence over how electronic versions of its content are consumed.

Neither wants to be at the mercy of some vendor, (and I'm thinking about you Adobe and your Macromedia Flash).

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658395)

It is almost silly to go into chip business yourself. It takes a lot of money to keep your fab up to date. TI could spread their fab cost across their DSP line.

Are they going to turn to someone else TSMC for fab? You can either have portable chip design or an optimized design that is tied to a fab, but not both at the same time. See Slashdot previously complaining about AMD just compiling their processor design as a SoC and not tweaking it as a processor like Intel.

Not to mention the IP and patents etc. What if they want to add some DSP or other peripheral cores? TI could easily drop a few of their own IP cores in there for "free", but not Amazon.

Nook killer (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 2 years ago | (#41658719)

The BN nook uses this processor. Sounds like an attempt at freezing out the competition.

Re:Nook killer (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#41660117)

That entirely depends on the commitments to supply TI made to B&N. Those don't always die off when divisions change hands- and they go to the successor in interest when they do. So...it'd be Amazon having to supply their competitor with parts. Seriously.

Re:Nook killer (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 2 years ago | (#41662681)

Not much different than Samsung and Apple.

Re:What? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#41659203)

Call me ignorant, but since when is Amazon a company that develops hardware?

I know Amazon has a big catalog, but customized / re-branded products aside, aren't they basically a box-moving company? What the *** are they doing in the chip development business? More specifically: what do they expect to do, that a specialist like TI can't do for them?

The last time I heard something like this was when a book store started selling computer time. Amazon is VERY good at finding new markets.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41659233)

Call me ignorant, but since when is Amazon a company that develops hardware?

http://www.lab126.com/index.htm

Re:What? (2)

BBF_BBF (812493) | about 2 years ago | (#41661863)

Call me ignorant, but since when is Amazon a company that develops hardware?

I know Amazon has a big catalog, but customized / re-branded products aside, aren't they basically a box-moving company? What the *** are they doing in the chip development business? More specifically: what do they expect to do, that a specialist like TI can't do for them?

Umm... Amazon runs one of the largest commercial "cloud" computing services, they've moved from being a strictly "box mover" a LONG time ago. Buying TI's OMAP division may help Amazon develop custom low power servers that would improve their "cloud" in addition to moving their e-reader/multimedia consumption device design in-house.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662305)

What the *** are they doing in the chip development business? More specifically: what do they expect to do, that a specialist like TI can't do for them?

TI doesn't make "custom" chips anymore. Catalog is the way of the future so the ASIC groups have been (effectively) shut down for some time.

Re:What? (2)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about 2 years ago | (#41663789)

Call me ignorant, but since when is Amazon a company that develops hardware?

You've got it. Amazon don't develop hardware like this, which is why to get in on they act they need to buy an established player. Whether this is a good idea or not is open for debate (looks okay short term, but I'm highly skeptical beyond that), as it would bring Amazon something very different that is out of their wheelhouse. As a company that does services and supply very well, is it really necessary to go so far with the Kindle? The e-reader business is a money maker of a delivery system for them but the content is still king, so while developing hardware in-house could lead to a better or cheaper Kindle, it could also limit flexibility as competitors innovate, making this all a big gamble. Since the hardware and specs are less important to Amazon's business it would certainly be safer to continue to adapt what is already available and simply stay in the race with Apple et al., rather than trying to beat them at their own game or change the game entirely. If I were in charge at Amazon, this is problem not a problem I would throw a ton of money at, or at least not my number one solution.

Misleading Title (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658157)

OMAP is only one small part of TI's integrated circuit business.
 
That said, I'd really prefer if they kept it. I really like what TI has been doing with OMAP lately. I'm afraid Amazon might ruin it for the rest of us.

Re:Misleading Title (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 2 years ago | (#41659199)

OMAP is only one small part of TI's integrated circuit business.

Yes. Editors, please fix this. TI's "chip business" is 98% of the company (the rest is calculators).

Re:Misleading Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662421)

Don't confuse OMAP (OMAP3/4/x) devices with the AM/DM (AM335x aka BeagleBone).

Different groups inside TI.

Tricky Situation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658183)

All it would do is place Amazon in a postion to actually fufill their orders for parts for the Nooks (Successors in interest typically get stuck with deals in progress unless there's clauses that cause the contract to go "poof" in them...).

We won't get into B&N doing a mass purchase (That would have to be filled) for an EOL for all intents and purposes against the OMAPs they already have designs for- and then start buying from one of the Chinese, Taiwanese, or Korean suppliers of ARM SoC's that're roughly comparable. TI just gave them better deals at the time they went with the parts in question.

Why TI? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 years ago | (#41658221)

With Amazon's tablet being so much more tightly controlled than most Android devices, it should be much easier for Amazon to change architectures, and just force in-house and other developers to ensure their apps (if native, rather than the 90%+ that are Dalvik) are recompiled and working on the new CPU from day one.

As we saw with the first $100 ICS tablet out of China, MIPS chips can be cheaper while still performing just as well, particularly with China spending good amounts of money to keep developing their Dragon / Loong Soon chip, giving it out-of-order execution, multiple cores, and better performance per-clock (where MIPS has always been ahead of ARM) and giving it away to domestic producers.

So, of all Android tablet producers, why doesn't Amazon try jumping ship to a different CPU?

Re:Why TI? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41660461)

Maybe they think that they can make it cheaper after acquiring it?

Re:Why TI? (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about 2 years ago | (#41663801)

Probably. But when competitors continue to advance, will Amazon be able to keep up? Seems like putting a lot of eggs in one rather expensive basket.

More chip players (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 years ago | (#41658307)

Amazon taking charge of OMAP could leave rivals Barnes & Noble in a tricky situation.

Apple just announced that it's going into the chip business. Why not Microsoft too?

The new Barnes & Noble subsidiary, which will build on the history of innovation in digital reading technologies from both companies, has not been named and will be referred to as Newco.
http://www.eweek.com/c/a/IT-Management/Microsoft-Invests-300M-in-Barnes-and-Noble-Settles-Patent-Flap-555788/ [eweek.com]
 

Re:More chip players (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41659807)

Microsoft doesn't need to they have enough influence over Intel/AMD for it to not matter. (If they decided to make the arm winrt run desktop apps (or threatened to) it would be enough to keep them in line).

Re:More chip players (1)

BLToday (1777712) | about 2 years ago | (#41661105)

MSFT can buy AMD with their pocket change, then they can own the full stack (chips, graphics, server (SeaMicro), OS, and applications). Of course, Intel would be pissed. But it's not like Intel would stop supporting Windows. Mac OS X is not going to be able to make up the difference in lost Windows sales.

Intel needs MSFT more than MSFT needs Intel.

I doubt this will be good for... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 2 years ago | (#41658339)

I doubt that this will be good for other TI users, either---not just B&N.

Do Not Want! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658389)

Ugh - I don't like Amazon as a company. They're annoying and wedge themselves into my view all the time and I want them to go away.

TI on the other hand.... I really like TI chips and support. I've worked with a number of chip vendors, and they're my favorite when it comes to developer support, Linux support and SDKs.

Plus, I think of Amazon as a "sell materialistic people a bunch of useless junk" company, whereas TI is all into signal processing, military, heath care, and all kinds of actual useful things.

I really don't want this to happen.

Re:Do Not Want! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41660119)

Ugh - I don't like Amazon as a company. They're annoying and wedge themselves into my view all the time and I want them to go away.

TI on the other hand.... I really like TI chips and support. I've worked with a number of chip vendors, and they're my favorite when it comes to developer support, Linux support and SDKs.

Plus, I think of Amazon as a "sell materialistic people a bunch of useless junk" company, whereas TI is all into signal processing, military, heath care, and all kinds of actual useful things.

I really don't want this to happen.

OK, I'll go tell Jeff...

Re:Do Not Want! (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 2 years ago | (#41660801)

Define 'useful'. Amazon makes a lot of very useful technologies and products available.

It started off as an online bookstore.
It transformed itself into a general online store.

Not only that, it opened up its e-platform allowing all kinds of people and business access.
It also pushed cloud and virtual computing by again making its services available.

They're pushing the content barrier, lowering costs and increasing availability... making content profitable on a mass market for the producers of content.

Today, they are working towards automating the warehouse and general automation. I can't think of a near-term revolutionary idea that generalized warehouse and assembly robotics. Good/bad, the impact is unmistakable.

That they can fund all this and push further into technology by selling things is a godsend to the technology industry. No longer is the technology part just subservient to the real industry.

Amazon needs to focus (2)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#41658483)

Are they selling Kindles or books?

Right now they seem to be laboring under the delusion that they're a Kindle company. They've deliberately crippled the Android version of the Kindle software; for instance, you can't categorize books into collections, which is a Big Deal if you're a serious reader and have dozens or hundreds of books. There's no technical reason for the omission, it's just market segmentation.

I can't imagine they (currently) make more profit on the Kindle than they do selling their books, music, et al, so I can't see a rational reason for this strategy.

Tech is cool and trendy (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41658783)

whereas books arn't (if you're under 25). And if you live in the fantasyland that a lot of these dot.com CEOs do and believe that skinny jeaned hipsters with disposable cash will be your core market in the future (they won't , they'll have moved on to the next must have male handbag substitute long before) then you'll go for the flash products every time at the expense of your the business that actually makes you money now.

Re:Amazon needs to focus (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | about 2 years ago | (#41659207)

They sell Kindles to sell you books.

If they sell you a physical book one time, there's nothing to say you'll buy from them next time. If you're the kind of person who reads a lot, this decision can happen 10-30 times a year. Sure you might be loyal and enjoy Amazon's prompt delivery service, but you also might be in an airport or walking by a display in your neighborhood.

If they sell you a kindle you've made that ereader/tablet purchase once and will probably not do it so for a while. In between, they've got you for EVERY SINGLE purchase you're likely going to make because its very easy to get books on your kindle from Amazon, but a pain in the ass otherwise. And ebooks are as about low overhead as you can get. After costs to the publisher (which they also manage very well because they own the market) the rest is profit minus the fraction of a penny it costs to serve up 1-2MB of data.

Amazon is smart enough to realize that paper books are losing ground to ebooks quickly (probably not as fast as music, but still) and in the digital media world the best way to control the market is to control the store, and the best way to control the store is to control the device that connects to the store. Look no further than Apple, music, Itunes and the Ipod for that example.

Long term I agree its probably a stop gap - once they've bootstrapped the market and gotten you locked into your kindle library its unlikely you'll go elsewhere for books, but will instead continue to install the kindle app on all your devices.

Re:Amazon needs to focus (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41659391)

Amazon is a search engine for stuff. You go there to search for stuff you want to buy and they arrange for you to buy it and take a percentage. They don't much care whether you buy a paperback or a laptop or a snow blower, or whether you buy direct from them or through a third party who sells through them. They just want a cut of all the money you spend on stuff.

Thinking of them as a traditional retailer is a mistake. They're not.

Re:Amazon needs to focus (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41660525)

Bezos has already said recently that they make no profits on Kindle (at least the e-ink one), it's literally sold at cost. So they're a books (or rather content and services) company, and they know it full well.

However, Amazon's strategy recently has been to flood the market with cheap devices that undercut others on cost, and then preferentially support/advertise their services on those devices. Hence their constant drive to make their hardware cheaper. I expect this acquisition is a part of that strategy.

I don't think the limitations in Android version of Kindle app are deliberate - more likely that it's just not as high-priority as iOS, and lags on features. Their readers on other, even more obscure, platforms (like WP7) lag even more.

Re:Amazon needs to focus (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about 2 years ago | (#41663873)

Right. They make money on content and services, and have an incredible distribution network. That's why I say that although buying out a part of TI's business that TI isn't sure what to do with may not be a great idea. Sure, it could help them cut costs on current or near-term generation products, but what about further down the line? What happens in a few years when the nascent tablet market looks very different? Will they be able to adapt in a cost-effective manner or will they fail when the Kindle line lags behind in terms of hardware? I'd rather stay a bit behind Apple or whomever on the hardware side, maintain the flexibility to transition to other hardware platforms as they arrive, and continue to focus on what Amazon does well - getting things to people. The Kindle will have to evolve as well, but that doesn't mean you need to go out on a limb to develop the dang chips yourself.

Re:Amazon needs to focus (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41663907)

Well, in other markets they have employed the same tactics as well, and have successfully driven prices down. Look a bit closer at what Amazon is involved in, you might get surprised. They even have a local grocery delivery service nowadays in some areas (which actually doubles for delivery of purchases that come directly from Amazon warehouses in those areas).

History repeating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41658755)

This is the Web 2.0 version of AOL buying Time-Warner.

Forking Android? (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41658817)

Bigger question is - will they maintain a separate fork from the 2.2/2.3 they are using?

Or will they move to Jelly Bean (without the pieces they don't like obviously), and continue to maintain their own stuff separately?

This may make things more interesting.

Not getting into the chip *making* business (4, Informative)

robot256 (1635039) | about 2 years ago | (#41658951)

No one seems to have mentioned it yet, but it's worth pointing out that Amazon is presumably buying just the OMAP processor *design* unit, not the manufacturing unit. They will likely still use TI's foundries to make the parts, but Amazon will have control over the architecture and who gets the documentation.

Also worth reinforcing that this is not a bad deal for TI. ARM CPUs are pretty much a commodity product at this point, without much room for differentiation unless you go hog wild with optimizations like Qualcomm has. TI's main business has always been in the low-level ASIC and microcontroller markets, where is has a very large, well-respected variety of parts and continues to improve them.

Re:Not getting into the chip *making* business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41659497)

Amazon can probably see that they need in-house SoC design expertise as well. Apple has it. Samsung has it. It will be one more aspect that the giant corporations of the 21st century will need to in-house. This will allow designs perfectly tuned for their own needs, as well as reducing the choice for their competitors.

Re:Not getting into the chip *making* business (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41660895)

and who gets the documentation.

That might be just it! the _only_ way to get good specs on it is to buy the whole shitbang!

Re:Not getting into the chip *making* business (1)

daviee (137644) | about 2 years ago | (#41662409)

Maybe good for TI, but not sure about other companies/products that depend on the OMAP. Amazon after all has not yet demonstrated they are a good R&D/chipset company. It's also (not yet) one of their core businesses. Unless you're developing a one-off product with not too much plans for future evolution, would you develop it based on a chipset that has an unknown future? Will Kindle requirements become the main driving force of future OMAP updates?

Amazon has the money to take a snapshot of the OMAP design now, but do they have the drive to continue to invest R&D to make future revisions (OMAP5/6/7/8) that others depending on OMAP may want? Will the current state be the technological peak of OMAP?

It's pretty damn cheap already... (1)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41659093)

I know Amazon says they don't make any money on the hardware, which probably sucks for them, but a Kindle fire goes for about $ 150 US so there really isn't that much to be made on each sale, even if production costs go down 30% you are only making 45$ per unit. Now if you control the manufacturing, edge out competition like B&N's nook you could release a Kindle 2 at 300$ and still be far cheaper than an IPad and make a good chunk off hardware costs.

Good for Amazon shareholders? Sure would be! Good for consumers? Nope!

wow (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41659405)

The way the line wrapped on my phone, I thought the headline read, "Amazon considering buying Texas.". Maybe I need a kindle so I can have longerlines on my screen.

Re:wow (1)

fnj (64210) | about 2 years ago | (#41659727)

It sucks to have a non retina display.

Still waiting on a server version of OMAP (2)

Big_Breaker (190457) | about 2 years ago | (#41659447)

I really wish someone would come out with a dual core arm SoC with e-sata and gigabit ethernet as a light duty server. 1BG of ram would be nice but 512MB would probably work too. Guruplug, some of the allwinner media boxes and BYO drives NAS boxes come close but each miss something or cost too much. Single core is weak for rar / par and can get bogged down (yea, yea scheduler, blah blah). USB can't set HD parameters, has material cpu overhead and is wonky for RAID. 100/10 is a bit weak throughput for even a SOHO server.

OMAP5 with the right configuration would get there. Please stop putting 100/10 interfaces on these chips @&#$%!

I'm ok paying for a light-duty gpu and hdmi display interface but e-sata and gigabit pls, pls ,pls.

Re:Still waiting on a server version of OMAP (2)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#41660243)

Marvell's done that [marvell.com] ...with up to quad cores even. Dell partnered up with them to make their first ARM server in their lineup.

Why bother? (1)

Turmoyl (958221) | about 2 years ago | (#41659467)

Considering how gimped the Kindle series is (it excludes the entirety of the Google ecosystem), adding more horsepower would be akin to putting lipstick on a pig. As such, I have no idea what Amazon hopes to accomplish with this acquisition, and don't expect much from it.

This is not gonna happen. (1)

ultranerdz (1718606) | about 2 years ago | (#41659573)

I think it won't happen as the article describes.

TI "spin off" the OMAP and make the Sitara and the DaVinci families ("almost" same features as OMAP) that are used by several "non-mobile" applications. Many people depend on those and I am sure that they need to keep producing and developing for many more years.

Also, OMAP is a SoC that has TI proprietary devices used by other markets, like for example the DSP, and I am sure they are not selling those either.

I think the best deal for Amazon would be to make a partnership and design an exclusive "custom" OMAP (please rename) for their needs and don't sell /that/ to B&N.

Re:This is not gonna happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662453)

Glad somebody mentioned DaVinci. The two lines are so similar I've never understood why they have both. Maybe that's why they want to sell OMAP?

Of course if they go cold turkey on selling OMAP there are going to be a lot of very unhappy customers As big as TI is, it wouldn't behoove them to do that. It means engineers will avoid their products, and there could be company policies to avoid TI. It's happened to others.

I misread the headline (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | about 2 years ago | (#41662275)

I thought oh, Amazon is buying Texas. That should help with the sales tax issue :-)

Woot (1)

rot26 (240034) | about 2 years ago | (#41662375)

Just out of curiosity who still uses woot since Amazon bought them? Show of hands? Anybody? Class? Anybody?

Yeah thought so.

Amazing shift of the 'guard' (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41664401)

Anyone here remember when TI was *the* powerhouse of chip development/fabrication? Anyone remember when the *only* name in radio was Motorola.. ( no, RCA doesnt count )

Now look at what we have, moto is owned by a damned search engine, and soon TI by a book company...

WTF is going on in this world?

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