AMD buys National Semi’s Geode business

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has agreed to purchase the Information Appliance business unit of National Semiconductor Corp. for an undisclosed amount, adding chips for thin-client devices and set-top boxes to AMD’s portfolio, the companies announced Wednesday.

National Semiconductor’s Geode processors make up the bulk of its Information Appliance division. These chips are compatible with the x86 instruction set that all of AMD’s processors use, and are designed for embedded products such as smart displays and handheld devices.

The assets of the Information Appliance business unit will be added to AMD’s Personal Connectivity Solutions group, along with 132 employees, AMD said. National Semiconductor, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said earlier this year that it was not realizing enough of a return on its investment in the Geode product line, and put the business unit on the block to cut costs.

AMD said the deal will give the Sunnyvale, Calif., company a common processor architecture for all of its products from embedded devices to servers.

Intel Corp. also sells chips in all those categories, but uses ARM Ltd.’s architecture in chips for personal digital assistants, and its own EPIC (explicitly parallel instruction computing) architecture for its Itanium 2 server chips, in addition to the x86 architecture used by the Pentium 4 and the Pentium M.

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