Synaptics has bought out Renesas SP Drivers in a deal worth $475 million, Reuters
writes. The latter is a joint venture between Renesas, Sharp, and Powerchip, and produces all of the display chips for the Apple iPhone, though it does have other clients for products like fingerprint sensors. It in fact controls 90 percent of the fingerprint sensor market, thanks to having bought out Validity last year.
The acquisition should bring Synpatics back into the Apple supply chain. At one point the company produced the wheels used on iPods, but lost out when Apple decided to bring touch technology in-house. "Our better opportunities are really complementary technologies to what they do internally. And at this junction I don't believe they do any driver chips internally so that would really be an opportunity for us," says Synaptics CEO Rick Bergman.
Apple was actually rumored has wanting to buy SP Drivers, but talks allegedly broke down
earlier this year. Synaptics' plans are said to involve developing a single-chip product that combines its touch technology with SP Drivers' chip designs. That could in theory improve the cost and performance of displays for devices like smartphones.