Semiconductor Value Chain

Acquisitions Take ARM IP Portfolio into RF

20 April 2015

Intellectual property (IP) licensor ARM Holdings plc has acquired two U.S. companies that are active in Bluetooth communications technology that it will unite to create its Cordio IP portfolio.

The two companies are Wicentric Inc. (San Diego) and Sunrise Micro Devices Inc. (Deerfield Beach, Fla.).

ARM (Cambridge, England) did not disclose how much it paid for the firms, but the move takes the company into the RF sector and in particular the move towards using Bluetooth for some short-range connections in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Cordio portfolio will complement ARM's processor and physical IP targeting low-power wireless in the IoT, ARM says in a statement.

Wicentric's exactLE stack is a protocol stack for single-mode Bluetooth low-energy devices that is Bluetooth 4.0 qualified. The company was founded in 2009.

Sunrise Micro offers a self-contained radio block with related firmware. A key part of the Sunrise offering is its design to work at sub-one volt enabling radios to run longer on batteries or harvested energy.

This makes the Sunrise offering close to near-threshold voltage operation, an energy-saving approach that ARM and others such as Ambiq have been pioneering for microcontrollers. It is also something that foundry TSMC has addressed with the introduction of ultra-low power process technologies at the 55, 45, 28 and 16nm geometries.

In February, ARM announced the acquisition of Netherlands-based Offspark, which brought security software to ARM's mbed platform. Offspark’s PolarSSL technology has been deployed in a variety of devices, including sensor modules, communication modules and smartphones.

At the time of the acquisition, ARM said the PolarSSL IP would form the core of ARM’s mbed communication security and software cryptography strategy, but would remain open source and available for commercial use.

It’s clear that ARM is in the process of building up a suite of IP aimed at IoT to help developers create highly-integrated power efficient SoCs. The ARM Cordio portfolio is available for immediate licensing.

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