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Renesas' Zigbee move signals shift in deals

Posted: 16 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Zigbee chipsets? wireless communications? RF chipset?

Tired of sitting on the sidelines in a hot market, Renesas Technology Corp. is making a major entry into Zigbee chipsetsa move that could alter the company's pacts with Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments (TI) and ZMD.

Renesas previously offered only MCUs for the Zigbee market. The company's controllers are supplied to OEMs on a non-exclusive basis alongside separate Zigbee-based RF chipsets and related devices from Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments and ZMD.

Now, Renesas is looking to offer a complete solution for systems houses by developing MCUs, Zigbee-based RF chipsets and even single-chip devices. It plans to develop devices in the 900MHz and 2.4GHz bands.

On one front, Renesas will license RF-based intellectual property (IP), using the 802.15.4 protocol, from ZMD AG. The move will enable Renesas to develop its own 900MHz-band Zigbee chipset in 2008.

By that time, Renesas will offer a two-chip solution, including its own Zigbee chipset and an MCU. The Zigbee chipset will be fabricated within Renesas' own fabs, said Ritesh Tyagi, director of marketing of the system LSI business unit at Renesas Technology America Inc.

Then, in 2009, the company plans to develop a single-chip solution based on the Zigbee chipset and controller. The product will be in the 900MHz band, Tyagi said.

Renesas also intends to develop a separate Zigbee RF chipset in the 2.4GHz band, he said. Renesas declined to elaborate on those plans, but the proposed device may not involve partnerships with Freescale and TI. These two firms currently offer Zigbee products along with Renesas controllers on a nonexclusive basis.

Zigbee is a short-distance wireless communications standard based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. It was developed for control systems that automate homes and offices, comms applications for healthcare equipment and automated inspection systems, and data transfer between sensors.

Acceptability drivers
Of the communications bands supported by Zigbee, the 900MHz band is now being introduced primarily in Europe and North America. Its advantages include wide coverage, optimized battery life and minimal signal interference, according to Renesas.

Forecast for Zigbee chipsets: Growth to soar for 900MHz and 2.4GHz.

Zigbee is broader in addressing 2.4GHz, which gives it two advantagesthe availability of multiple channels and global availability, which is a key aspect in ensuring acceptability.

Renesas expects that 5 million Zigbee-based chipsets will be shipped by 2010. About 25 to 30 percent of those will be products in the 900MHz band, the company said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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