Renesas Electronics has acquired Panthronics. Dr. Sailesh Chittipeddi, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Renesas' IoT and Infrastructure Business Unit, is convinced that this has closed an important gap at Renesas.
Markt & Technik: Renesas Electronics has been "shopping" once again, this time acquiring the Austrian company Panthronics, a specialist in NFC. Is this a technology that is really important for Renesas?
Sailesh Chittipeddi: Absolutely. This acquisition is another piece of the puzzle that is important for our strategy, because we want to be able to cover all important communication technologies in both the short- and long-range area. And in terms of NFC, we definitely had a gap that we needed to fill. Thanks to various acquisitions such as Celeno or Dialog Semiconductor, but also our own developments, we now have Wi-Fi, UWB, Bluetooth and sub-GHz technologies such as Wi-SUN or 6LoWPAN. With Panthronics, we can now also cover NFC communication, which covers a short range of 10 cm and data rates of 424 kbps.
But are there many applications in which NFC is used that are important to Renesas?
Most certainly, because NFC plays a role in many application areas that Renesas addresses. One example is "NFC charging". In this field, Renesas is already active, and the NFC technology definitely helps us here. But we are also a major MCU supplier in the automotive as well as industrial area, and the NFC technology is an important communication technology in these markets as well. It is used in many applications, from mPOS terminals, vending machines, to wireless headphones or smart watches - NFC is used in all these areas. Or think of electric vehicle charging, NFC also plays an important role here when it comes to payment. In this field we can already offer many technologies, except just NFC, but now that gap is also closed. However, there are many more opportunities. For example, consider smart key systems and keyless entry systems where NFC technology plays an important role.
NFC is important in many application areas, so we can use this technology to complement our microcontroller business, for example, but also for our range of products in all embedded processing areas. This means that with Panthronics we can offer a technology that we didn't have before. This applies both in terms of our Winning Combinations and also in the long term when it comes to integrating this technology into our products such as microcontrollers and microprocessors. It also means that we can complement our security functions with NFC in the future.
There are already established providers that have NFC in their portfolio, how can Renesas score here as a late entrant?
True, there are competitors who have already done a good job here. But I think there is enough room in the market for a larger number of players. Besides, Panthronics' NFC technology is more than competitive.
In what way?
Panthronics uses a sine wave, which is unique. The sine wave has decisive advantages. These include, for example, a reduction in terms of complexity, size, and cost, because thanks to the sine wave technology, no EMI filters are necessary. But this also gives the developer more flexibility. This is because it allows Rx connection directly to the antenna, so that sensitivity increases by a factor of more than 2. In addition, the Tx connection directly to the antenna makes it possible for the output power to be over 2 W, which is higher than the typical 1.8 W. And thanks to the redundant filters, a resonance circuit is also eliminated, which means that development is simpler and therefore faster. In addition, the Panthronics technology allows precise control of wave shaping for over/undershoots, making certification easier.
How do you view TouchBase as an alternative to NFC?
TouchBase came onto the market sometime around 2013, and at the time it was said that it would replace NFC. From today's perspective, I would say that it's the other way around, because NFC allows limited data rate bidirectional secure communication, a point that is absolutely crucial in many cases. With TouchBase, there are additional costs such as using conductive inks which never really appealed to a broad user base. From my point of view, TouchBase never really achieved a breakthrough for this reason.
Does the NFC technology play into the hands of both business units, or is the advantage more on the side of your IIBU?
It helps both business units, because NFC technology is quite fundamentally an important communications technology that simply fits in perfectly with our existing product portfolio. From Panthronics' point of view, on the other hand, we have distribution channels that the company did not have before. In addition, there is pull in the market, and our customers are also interested in this technology. This means that we can increase our overall market that can be addressed with this communication technology. A great example of this is electric vehicle charging stations which have multiple products on our reference designs and now with NFC from Panthronics we can also tackle the payment aspect. With Panthronics, we can cover this application with more products, but of course this also applies to applications beyond automotive.
Interview by Iris Stroh