Qorvo recently agreed to purchase Greenpeak Technologies, a fabless semiconductor company that builds low-power, short-range wireless chips. The deal is the latest example of large wireless companies buying out smaller competitors that target smart homes.
Greenpeak builds controller chips based on Bluetooth and ZigBee, a wireless standard for creating networks that are only large enough to cover a house or apartment. The company designs chips and integrated software for remote controls, lighting, heating, access control, and security in smart homes. In 2015, the company announced it had shipped 100 million ZigBee chips.
Bluetooth Smart, the low-power version of the standard, has begun to shift toward the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier this year, developers gained the ability to build internet gateways with Bluetooth, allowing sensors and other devices to relay data to the cloud. That feature would allow anyone to monitor and control Bluetooth sensors from a remote location, like turning your house lights off while on vacation.
The acquisition helps Qorvo "expand its customer offering to include highly integrated RF solutions and systems-on-a-chip for the connected home and the rapidly growing Internet of Things," the company said in a statement.
The terms of the deal were not announced. Based in the Netherlands, Greenpeak Technologies will become part of Qorvo's Infrastructure and Defense Products division. Both companies expect the transaction to close this quarter.
The deal is the latest sign that large wireless companies are turning to acquisitions to expand into the IoT quickly. Last year, Silicon Labs closed deals to buy Telegesis (a supplier of mesh ZigBee modules) and Bluegiga Technologies, (a company that develops Bluetooth Smart modules). Synopsys, which makes electronic design automation software, last year purchased the intellectual property assets of Bluetooth Smart chip designer Silicon Vision.
In the battle for the smart home, ZigBee and Bluetooth are also competing with Thread, a rival standard developed in part by Google's NEST smart home division. Thread’s protocol places an emphasis on mesh networking, or skipping wireless data from one node to another. Greenpeak chips, however, are network agnostic, meaning that they can support Thread if developers abandon ZigBee or Bluetooth.