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Intel buys Wind River to push Linux

Intel to use Wind River products to boost software for embedded, mobile chips

By Agam Shah
June 4, 2009 04:55 PM ET

IDG News Service - Intel Corp.'s acquisition of Wind River on Thursday is a strong push by the chip maker to extend Linux support across devices that use its processors, analysts said.

Intel agreed to buy Wind River for $884 million. The acquisition should help both Intel's prominence in the Linux space and its efforts to push the OS in smartphones and mobile Internet devices, analysts said. Wind River offers embedded Linux operating systems and is a leader in software design tools for devices such as smartphones.

"While [Intel] competes with many vendors in doing so, it may also be trying to counter the buzz and momentum in the space around Android from Google and the Open Handset Alliance," said Jay Lyman, an enterprise software analyst with The 451 Group.

Intel has been throwing more of its weight behind Linux and its efforts to consolidate the disparate versions of the operating system, Lyman said. The company is working on Moblin v2.0, a version of Linux for mobile devices and netbooks, for which it released a beta version in May. It is also working with Canonical on Ubuntu Netbook Remix, a flavor of Linux for netbooks.

Intel's Atom processor was designed for mobile devices and netbooks and it recently announced derivatives of that Atom chip for embedded devices. It also opened up Atom's design to other chip designers through a deal announced in March with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. The company is trying to catch up with rival Arm, whose low-power chip designs go into most cell phones and smartphones today.

To sell more chips, Intel needs to provide software tools, and acquiring Wind River could give it much-needed credibility in the embedded and mobile space, analysts said. Products like Wind River's compilers could help Intel optimize software to work with low-power x86 chips.

"The company seems to be interested in the broader mobile and embedded software space, which continues to embrace Linux," Lyman said. "Intel is obviously moving more aggressively into both software and mobile and embedded devices, so this acquisition fits both of those."

Wind River's acquisition could be a step to filling the software side of Intel's recent push to develop integrated chips that could fit into new products like set-top boxes and TVs, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research.

"Intel already had quite a bit of embedded software expertise, and a bit of the motivation was to ramp that up," McCarron said. Wind River's products fit right into Intel's software offerings, which include compilers and tools like Vtune that analyzes and optimizes software performance. Compilers are a key to optimizing software for execution on the x86 processor instruction set, McCarron said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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