infoTECH Feature

June 04, 2009

Intel Buys Wind River Systems for $884 million

Now that nearly every desktop computer in the world connects to the Internet, various embedded devices will inevitably follow (e.g. when you’re out of vitamins, your medicine cabinet will remind you or directly order more of them). Moreover, the rise of autonomous military vehicles and other intelligent devices is a big deal for embedded systems developers. Intel obviously recognizes this fact and, as a result, has agreed to acquire Wind River (News - Alert), perhaps the world’s premier supplier of embedded tools, operating systems (VxWorks) and services, for $884 million.
It was in 1981 that Jerry Fiddler of Berkeley Labs (who was interested in photography and computer-generated music) and his colleague, Dave Wilner, founded Wind River Systems, named after Wyoming’s Wind River where Fiddler had vacationed shortly before. The partnership became a corporation in 1993, and in 1999 they appeared on everyone’s radar after acquiring a competitor, Integrated Systems Inc.
Wind River evolved from consulting on real-time software for big, complicated applications to software development, which resulted in its now-legendary real-time OS and tool package called VxWorks, with its support for SMP, IPv6, TIPC and memory protection, and which appears in everything from big telecom switches to tiny embedded appliances. VxWorks over the years has been joined by the Eclipse platform-based Wind River Workbench IDE and the Wind River Compiler.
In 2004, Wind River struck up a partnership with Red Hat (News - Alert) to create a new Linux-based distribution for embedded devices, a partnership with ended when Wind River began to ship its own Linux distribution optimized for embedded Linux development. On March 16, 2009, Wind River announced Wind River Linux 3.0.
Another partnership that went even more awry occurred in 2007 when Palm Inc. selected Wind River Systems software to run its Linux-powered Palm Foleo subnotebook (Palm said it wasn’t really a handheld or smartphone, instead calling it a “mobile companion”). The Foleo was announced by Palm on May 30, 2007 and was cancelled on September 4, 2007. It ultimately only supported Windows Mobile or Palm OS-based Palm Treos.
A year later, in 2008, Wind River partnered with BMW and Intel (News - Alert) on a Linux-based open-source platform to control in-car electronics.
And now, Intel has an agreement to buy Wind River for $884 million in cash, or $11.50 per share. Wind River will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel operating under the Intel Software and Services Group, headed by Renee James.
If there are no snags, Wind River said the acquisition will fit into “Intel's strategy to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments, into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices.”
Both parties expect the acquisition to close this summer (2009), provided the U.S. government detects to antitrust violations and certain conditions are met.

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)�s IP Communications Group. To read more of Richard’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek

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