Imagination sells its Ensigma WiFi6 business to Nordic Semi

Imagination sells its Ensigma WiFi6 business to Nordic Semi

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Nordic Semiconductor has aquired the Ensigma wireless business and IP, including WiFi6, from Imagination Technologies for an undisclosed sum

The wireless division, based in Chepstow, UK, was aquired for its WiFi design expertise and the WiFi IP as well as 80 staff.  This adds WiFi to Nordoc’s expertise in Bluetooth and cellular IoT (both LTE-M and NB-IoT versions). 

Ensigma’s Whisper Radio Processing Unit (RPU) was launched in 2015 and combines a low power WiFi design with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for licensing to system on chip developers focussed on the Internet of Things (ioT) combined with its MIPS processor cores. The company launched IP for WiFi6 earlier this year but the Ensigma had been part of the restructuring plans over the last two years to focus on the graphics and AI technology.

Nordic says the deal includes a ‘sizeable’ number of Imagination Technologies employees located in the U.K, Sweden, India, and Taiwan. Of these, around 15 percent are BLE specialists who will now further strengthen Nordic’s existing Bluetooth LE teams as well.

“This is a dream come true for Nordic Semiconductor and its customers, particularly in the smart home market,” said Svein-Egil Nielsen, CTO of Nordic. “As the global leader in short range Bluetooth wireless technology and the emerging leader in long-range cellular wireless IoT, there has long been a gap in between which our customers have been asking us to fill. And although it won’t happen overnight as this an IP acquisition rather than one that comes with Wi-Fi devices ready to sell, we will now be able to add Wi-Fi functionality to future generations of Nordic products.

“We at Nordic feel extremely fortunate and excited to have found the perfect Wi-Fi team with decades of state-of-the-art Wi-Fi design experience and expertise from whom we can learn all there is to know about Wi-Fi wireless technology. We believe in owning every link in our product chain, and with the Imagination Wi-Fi team on-board we will now be able to add Wi-Fi hardware and software that Nordic has developed from the ground up as we do with all our other wireless product ranges.”

“What’s just as exciting is the potential synergy between Nordic Semiconductor’s low power wireless heritage and the latest low power evolution of Wi-Fi that now allows battery-powered IoT devices,” adds Nordic Director of Product Management, Kjetil Holstad. “We plan to now become an active member of the Wi-Fi Alliance and work with them, as we have and continue to do with multiple other major standards organizations and bodies, to maximize Wi-Fi’s low power wireless application potential using our decades of ultra-low power wireless expertise.

“While it is too early to comment in any detail on what the Nordic product implications of this acquisition will be, I can say that we intend to create a development platform and environment that unifies all our wireless technologies. One that will bring all the benefits our customers have come to expect from Nordic in terms of lowering technological barriers to entry, removing all unnecessary design complexity, and making it very easy for Nordic customers to add high quality, low power Wi-Fi functionality and features to their Nordic-based products and applications.”

“I am very pleased with the competency that the Wi-Fi team following this acquisition now bring to Nordic’s wireless IoT capability range,” said Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO of Nordic. “We now plan to rapidly engage with Nordic’s new employees. And I would like to personally reassure each and every one of them that Nordic is one of the best semiconductor companies in the world to work for, has long successfully operated via a large number of global locations, and that we fully intend to make these new employees feel warmly welcome and become an integrated part of our day-to-day operations and people culture.”

“Although Wi-Fi was born in the consumer sector, it is now rapidly gaining traction within the industrial IoT space,” said Simon Beresford-Wylie, recently appotined CEO of Imagination. “With Imagination’s strong focus on graphics, vision, and AI processing, we feel our Wi-Fi IP division will thrive much better long-term within a company that has wireless connectivity at its centre and where it will become a major focus of strategic, technological, and commercial innovation and growth. I am extremely happy to have found such a good home for the technology and the team at Nordic Semiconductor: It’s a perfect match.”

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