Qualcomm aims at better battery life with Summit Micro buy

Summit Mirco chipset power management

Any buyer of a new LTE smartphone will have noticed that battery life in handsets is getting worse rather than better. The increasing complexity of today’s radio technologies and mounting demands of larger screens and more powerful processors, have all conspired to make new smartphones much bigger power hogs compared to their predecessors. But Qualcomm just bought a chip company that will help it solve that problem.

The San Diego-based wireless silicon vendor on Monday said it has acquired Summit Microelectronics for an undisclosed amount. Summit makes programmable chipsets designed to optimize power performance in portable electronics and networking infrastructure.

Based out of Sunnyvale, Calif., the company was formed in 1997 and was backed by August Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, HLM Management, Norwest Venture Partners, Pequot Capital and Spinnaker Ventures. Summit has 50 employees, all of whom are joining Qualcomm’s ranks in its CDMA Technologies division, which is responsible for making the company’s core radio modems and Snapdragon application processors.

Battery technologies simply haven’t kept up with the power demands of smartphones, which has led manufacturers like Motorola and Nokia to stick larger and larger lithium-ion packs in their handsets to keep them running. Qualcomm didn’t explain exactly how it will integrate Summit’s technology into its chipsets, saying only the acquisition “enhances the competitiveness of Qualcomm’s chipset solutions and enables us to provide our customers with industry leading power management and charging performance.”

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