Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sigma Designs to Acquire UWB Chipset Start-Up Blue7

Sigma Designs, which specializes in silicon-based media processors for IPTV set-top boxes, digital media receivers, high definition DVD players and other consumer media devices, agreed to acquire Blue7 Communications, a start-up focused on the development of advanced wireless technologies, and Ultra-Wideband (UWB) semiconductor products.

Blue7 is currently developing its "Windeo" chipset, encompassing an all-CMOS solution with the Baseband and MAC integrated chip along with an RF front-end chip, both of which are expected to move into production during the second half of 2006. Target applications for these high-performance, wireless chipsets include wireless video/audio streaming within the home, wireless connections from set-top components to HDTV displays, and future potential for a wireless USB standard.

Sigma Designs will pay a total of approximately $14 million for all outstanding shares of Blue7 capital stock and the assumption of all outstanding employee stock options, less amounts for securities held by Sigma in Blue7.

"Wireless connectivity is becoming an integral part of the consumer entertainment landscape," said Thinh Tran, chairman and CEO of Sigma Designs. "With Sigma's focus on IP video and networked consumer products, the addition of wireless communication products and technologies will enable us to address broader solutions and increase our value-add in each product."

  • In August 2005, Sigma Designs has begun sampling its new SMP8634 media processor, designed for IPTV set-top boxes and high-definition DVD players. The device represents a milestone for media processors in that it not only decodes H.264 (AVC), VC-1 and MPEG-2, but also supports multi-stream decoding of any format, up to the equivalent of two simultaneous high-definition streams, along with full-screen graphics. In the years ahead, Sigma said it expects to see a digital media duopoly shared by two new video codecs: VC-1, a SMPTE specification based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9), and H.264, a shared specification from ITU and MPEG associations, also known as AVC (advanced video codec) or MPEG-4 part 10. Moving forward, Sigma said VC-1 and H.264 appear destined to equally share the role as next generation digital media standards.

  • Blue7 was founded in 2002 and is currently located in San Jose. The company employs 20 people, 18 of which are engineers with experience in wireless LAN, CDMA, CMOS mixed signal RF, and other wireless technologies. A total of 13 patent applications have been filed during the development of Blue7's technologies.