Dual ARM Acquisitions Boost Internet-Of-Things Portfolio

Chip designer ARM Holdings double-dipped into the Internet of Things Thursday, revealing it has acquired Bluetooth Smart stack and profile provider Wicentric, as well as Bluetooth radio IP provider Sunrise Micro Devices.

The combination of the two companies' IP products will mesh together to form ARM's new Cordio portfolio, a family of standards-based radio solutions, delivering low-power wireless connectivity for wearables and other Internet-of-Things devices.

Terms and conditions of the dual acquisitions were not disclosed.

[Related: Internet Of Things Security Play: ARM Acquires Offspark]

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"Alongside low-power microcontrollers and environmental sensors, low-power radio capability is a key building block to delivering always-connectable IoT devices," said Dipesh Patel, executive vice president of technical operations at ARM. "The new ARM Cordio family delivers low-power Bluetooth radio IP, and support for Bluetooth software stack and profiles, allowing silicon vendors to focus their IoT R&D on differentiation in their end products. This will increase design efficiency and reduce overall costs."

Wicentric's product line boasts smart software solutions to develop low-power wireless products, which is vital for the Internet of Things. Sunrise Micro Devices, meanwhile, provides radio IP solutions that include native sub-one volt operations, enabling the radio to run longer on batteries.

The two acquisitions will shape the Cordio portfolio of radio IP, which will give the British company's semiconductor licensees access to sub-volt radio solutions for wearables requiring extended battery life and low-cost points.

ARM's dual acquisitions are a jab at Intel, which competes with companies that use ARM-based chips, like Qualcomm and Samsung.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has similarly made strides in the Internet-of-Things market, saying Thursday it had closed its acquisition deal with home automation company Lantiq, enabling Intel to extend its presence in cable home gateways for DSL and fiber markets.

"As the cost and size of computing continues to shrink, it enables companies to be really creative with the way devices are used," said Jon Bach, president of Puget Systems, a Kent, Wash.-based system builder. "As companies like Intel and ARM move further into embedded devices and the Internet of Things, they have to be experts about how that kind of technology is used, and these acquisitions are part of this learning process."

For system builders like Steve Bohman, vice president of operations at Columbus, Ohio-based Columbus Micro Systems, the opportunities for OEMs in the Internet-of-Things market are endless.

"There is a lot of hype around the Internet of Things, and companies like Intel are certainly putting a large chunk of effort into that space," Bohman said. "From a big-data standpoint, the Internet of Things will require more and more infrastructure and back-end computing. Certainly, Intel has a big push in the data center and how they're investing there."

ARM's move follows a slew of acquisitions to further the company's standing in the increasingly popular Internet-of-Things market. In February, the company acquired Internet-of-Things security software company Offspark to add an embedded transport layer security solution to its IoT product portfolio.

For channel partners, ARM and Intel's widespread interest in the Internet of Things drives opportunities in niche markets and specialized, connected devices.

"Channel resellers can not only develop or deploy the Internet-of-Things device, but they can also work with their clients to determine how that device shares information, how the information is analyzed, and what can be learned or used to benefit the particular business. This is where the channel's expertise has tremendous value," said Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel system builder partner. "The channel needs companies like Intel to deliver the building blocks that resellers, system integrators and VARs can use to develop innovative solutions that give them access to markets that were previously not considered as viable."

According to ARM, the Cordio portfolio will be immediately available for licensing.