Ember buys ZigBee radio technology to develop single-chip solution

Boston, MA; Cambridge, U.K.—To help it offer a single-chip ZigBee solution in 18 months, Ember Corp. recently bought what it reports is one of the world’s deepest portfolios of 802.15.4 radio frequency (RF) integrated circuit technology from Cambridge Consultants Ltd. (CCL).


Boston, MA; Cambridge, U.K.— To help it offer a single-chip Zigbee solution in 18 months, Ember Corp. recently bought what it reports is one of the world’s deepest portfolios of 802.15.4 radio frequency (RF) integrated circuit technology from Cambridge Consultants Ltd. (CCL) and hired the engineering team that developed it.

Ember says these moves will enable it to offer radio, network and software in an integrated 802.15.4/ZigBee package that serves the rapidly emerging market for low-cost, low-power networking applications. The market for ZigBee chips is expected to reach half a billion units by 2008, according to analyst Kirsten West of West Technology Research Solutions. “The potential size of these new wireless markets totally dwarfs anything we have seen so far with early consumer wireless standards,” adds West. Its latest deal with CCL deal gives Ember:

  • Exclusive rights to CCL’s 802.15.4 single-chip architecture, which supports low-power radio communications in demanding environments such as industrial facilities;

  • A license to use CCL’s library of low-power radio components; and a wide range of digital communications intellectual property; and

  • Two years of CCL’s integrated circuit development services to accelerate product development.

Paired with Ember’s embedded mesh networking intelligence, CCL’s radio technology will create a single-chip platform for mesh networking applications such as building security, heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation; inventory control; industrial controls; and transportation infrastructure safety monitoring. CCL is one of the world’s top developers of wireless applications, integrated circuits and intellectual property for low-powered, embedded radio.

“This acquirement proves our commitment to the market and to consolidating key intellectual property, networking and radio, in one product,” says Jeff Grammer, Ember’s CEO. “Companies developing 802.15.4-based products need radio and networking technologies that interoperate seamlessly, instead of spending valuable development time stitching them together. Coupling our current partner-based development strategy via Chipcon with outstanding in-house expertise makes Ember the sound choice for these companies.”

The development team, now part of Ember, will be the core of an expanded European presence based at CCL’s facilities in Cambridge, UK. Ember Europe now becomes the “fabless” silicon arm of Ember Corporation. The subsidiary also includes Ember’s existing UK sales and service staff.

“Wireless technology’s installed base is a tiny fraction of what’s possible,” says Nick Horne, Ember Europe’s director of semiconductor design. “By the middle of next year, we expect to have the networking and radio functionality that application developers need on one chip.”

Ember will also port its EmberNet mesh networking platform to the CCL platform, and continue EmberNet development for next-generation products.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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