Philips Buys Wi-Fi Chipmaker

By Eric Griffith

December 19, 2002

The Netherlands-based electronics company is buying up the German multi-band wireless company behind the yet to be released Tondelayo dual-band chip that will support 802.11a/b/g.

Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics , or just Philips to most, has announced an agreement to acquire Dresden, Germany-based multi-band wireless LAN chip maker Systemonic. The deal should close in the first quarter of 2003. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The buyout puts the electronics giant that's behind everything from consumer electronics to medical equipment to, of course, light bulbs, firmly into the high-speed Wi-Fi space. Currently the company's semi-conductor division supplies 802.11b radios and baseband/MAC chips to some OEMs. Philips' 802.11b solution will, in fact, be powering the wireless LAN connectivity in the first laptops to ship next year with Intel's new Banias Mobile Platform. Later in 2003, Banias will use Intel's own dual-band chips.

Todd Antes, director of marketing and business development for the Philips Connectivity Group in San Jose, CA says that the company is a "significant player in the 'b' space."

Antes confirms that this move is all about the higher speed, especially for building Philips' vision of the 'Connected Home.'

"We have existing portfolios, like gateways on a chip, broadband router technology, standards like 11b, Zigbee, Bluetooth," says Antes. "One thing missing in the Connected Home for us was 802.11 becoming the backbone connecting products like computers and home electronics. Systemonic gives us core technology" to power that backbone without wires.

Systemonic's dual-band solution, currently code-named Tondelayo, uses the company's RFlex technology with a programmable DSP chip to get dual 802.11a and b support on a single device. Tondelayo was demoed downloading video earlier this year in a PCI Card reference design that would seamlessly roam between separate 802.11b and 11a access points. Tondelayo is named for a character played by the co-inventor of frequency-hopping technology, movie star Hedy Lamarr, in the 1942 film "White Cargo"

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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