Intel acquires UK’s Omnitek to double down on FPGA solutions for video and AI applications

Intel’s strategy to build out its FPGA processor business continues apace. Today the company announced that it was acquiring Omnitek, a company based out of England that has developed FPGA solutions specifically geared to video and AI applications.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but from what I understand the price is not material to Intel. Omnitek has been around since 1998 and has raised almost no funding. Intel will be picking up Omnitek’s 40 employees — all based out of Basingstoke, England — along with the rest of Omnitek’s business, which included more than 220 FPGA IP cores and accompanying software.

The employees and rest of the Omnitek business will become a part of Intel’s FPGA business, which sits inside its Programmable Solutions Group, formed in large part through Intel’s $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera  in 2015. Integration will be relatively straightforward: Omnitek has worked closely with Altera over the years, Intel VP David Moore told me in an interview.

Intel has dived deeper into the design and production of FPGA chips as the complexity and power demands in computing have increased. Omnitek is a logical addition in that context, as video and other computer vision-based applications — Omnitek’s reach extends into medical devices, defense applications, security, AR and VR, broadcast, professional videoconferencing and more — have continued to grow.

“Omnitek’s technology is a great complement to our FPGA business,” said Dan McNamara, senior VP, GM, Programmable Solutions Group at Intel, in a statement. “Their deep, system-level FPGA expertise and high performance video and vision related technology have made them a trusted partner for many of our most important customers. Together, we will deliver leading FPGA solutions for video, vision, and AI inferencing applications on Intel FPGAs and speed time-to-market for our existing customers while winning new ones.”

While Omnitek’s history and work has primarily been in video (and earlier than that, broadcast), a natural complement to that has been later work in AI inferencing and the computing that is required for applications that rely on this.

“From data centers to devices, compute-intensive applications like 8K video and artificial intelligence require a multitude of innovative compute engines,” said Roger Fawcett, CEO and founder of Omnitek. “FPGA devices play an increasingly critical role, often complementing other processing architectures, and Intel is at the center of this revolution. Omnitek is excited and extremely proud to bring our intellectual property and engineers to join the talented team in the Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group.”

Intel says that the market for silicon is now valued at $300 billion annually, with programmable solutions accounting for $8 billion of that at the moment, but projected to grow, with “many of Intel’s cloud service providers, enterprise and embedded customers” all using FPGAs in video and visual-related applications. This deal brings more of that business directly to Intel. 

Other acquisitions Intel has made to build its PSG business include eASIC last year.