Analog Devices Acquires Industrial Ethernet Chip Maker

Analog Devices Acquires Industrial Ethernet Chip Maker

Innovasic module with its Fido networking chip. (Image courtesy of Innovasic).

Analog Devices has been shifting toward chips that manage power and condition sensors inside cars and factory equipment. Now, the Norwood, Mass.-based chipmaker is moving deeper into technology for sharing information between devices.

On Thursday, the company said that it had acquired Innovasic, a maker of Ethernet chips that act like tiny switchboards inside large networks of devices, such as factory robots or security cameras. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Innovasic, which was founded in 1992, started out making replacement chips for products no longer manufactured by companies like AMD and Intel. The New Mexico-based company focused on creating products with long lifetimes since industrial equipment is not typically updated as often as consumer electronics.

It still does that work, but now it also creates its own unique microcontrollers for coordinating robotic arms in an assembly line or connecting sensors inside a vehicle’s gas tank with the fuel gauge. It also makes the software for processing all that data in real time.

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“In environments such as automotive manufacturing, where teams of robots are working in tandem in harsh and noisy conditions, our automation customers demand robust, synchronized, network technology,” said Kevin Carlin, general manager of Analog Devices’ automation business, in a statement.

Innovasic is mostly known for its Fido networking chips, which shift real-time software capabilities into hardware. That makes them useful in applications where precise timing is important, like deploying airbags or filling soda bottles in a factory. Innovasic sells the chips to companies like Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric.

Ensuring that an entire network can make split-second decisions has become an increasingly vital part of industrial chips. Intel’s new Atom processors, the E3900, include what the chipmaker calls time-coordinated computing, which synchronizes an entire network of connected devices to achieve timing accuracy within a microsecond.

Innovasic will be folded into Analog Devices’ Industrial Automation Business unit. “With this acquisition, ADI is now able to offer its customers a path forward from the sensor to the connected future of Industrial IoT,” Carlin said.

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