嵌入式操作系统市场“并购风”愈演愈烈

上网时间: 2012年09月11日? 作者:Brent Lorenz? 我来评论 【字号: ? ?小】

关键字:嵌入式?

Will M&A Reignite in OS Market?

Brent Lorenz

On Aug. 28, I read about the acquisition of Petalogix, which offered an embedded Linux platform for FPGA, by Xilinx Inc. (Nasdaq: XLNX). It reminded me of all the embedded operating system acquisitions made by chip companies, hardware companies, and larger tool companies in the last decade. I wonder if the trend will continue and how many embedded processor companies aspire to owning and controlling their own OS.

Companies pondering this strategy must weigh the benefits of being able to control both the hardware and the OS (the Apple model) versus leveraging external partners for the OS (the Microsoft/Intel model or an open-source model). Companies contemplating an acquisition must consider factors such as the cost of supporting and maintaining a target OS internally, the cost of acquiring and integrating the target company, and other potential uses of cash and resources.

These factors are weighed against the additional revenue to be gained by offering a better, more tightly integrated, and more directly supported product. Sometimes buyers make a strategic decision to enter a market and pay a higher multiple for the target company. Other times a buyer sees an opportunity to obtain an OS company for a reasonable multiple. Whatever the internal reasons for such acquisitions, there have been a lot of them since the 1990s.

Most of the time, real-time operating system (RTOS) companies are acquired to integrate the OS into the tools platform of the acquirer. Back in the late 1990s, I was selling TI's DSPs like the TMS320C548 and TMS320C32. Remember those? In 1998, Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) acquired Spectron Microsystems of Santa Barbara, Calif., bringing the DSP/BIOS and SPOX embedded OS in-house. TI also acquired Go DSP of Toronto in 1997, bringing in the Code Composer developer platform. TI created an excellent development platform by integrating those tools into a powerful OS and IDE platform. TI gave away the OS and sold the IDE for a nominal price. This gave customers a great development platform for a low price, which accelerated time to market, meaning more DSP chip sales.

Other strategic examples include the 2002 Mentor Graphics Corp. acquisition of Accelerated Technology and its Nucleus OS platform, which was integrated into the Mentor software development platform. As recently as 2008, we saw Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) buy the remaining interest in Symbian, even though shortly thereafter, Nokia made the 180-degree decision to drop the OS and move to Microsoft.

Companies also frequently make acquisitions to eliminate competition. In 1999, Wind River Systems Inc. acquired Integrated Systems, which sold the very popular pSOS embedded OS. Wind River quickly killed pSOS, eliminating the key competitor to VxWorks before embedded Linux became prevalent.

In 2009 and 2010, there were several strategic blockbuster acquisitions. Intel acquired Wind River, Cavium Networks acquired MontaVista, and Research in Motion acquired QNX. The following table shows some of the key embedded OS acquisitions in the past decade or so, including the transaction value.

Will this consolidation continue? If so, who is next? A variety of high-quality independent embedded OS companies still exist, such as Green Hills (Integrity), LynuxWorks (Linux), TimeSys (Linux), ENEA (OSE), ExpressLogic (ThreadX), and of course Microsoft (Windows). Wikipedia has a good list of real-time OS solutions here. It wouldn't surprise me to see several of these companies acquired in the coming years.

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  • 关于嵌入式设计和嵌入式系统
  • 一般来说,嵌入式系统是“执行专用功能并被内部计算机控制的设备或者系统。嵌入式系统不能使用通用型计算机,而且运行的是固化的软件,用术语表示就是固件(firmware),终端用户很难或者不可能改变固件。”人们很少会意识到他们往往随身携带了好几个嵌入式系统——手机、手表或者智能卡都嵌有它们,而且他们在与汽车、电梯、厨房设备、电视、录像机以及娱乐系统的嵌入式系统交互时也往往对此毫无觉察。嵌入式系统在工业机器人、医药设备、电话系统、卫星、飞行系统等领域扮演了一个更为重要的角色。正是“看不见”这一个特性嵌入式计算机与通用PC计算机相区分。

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