Silicon Labs has bought Z-Wave chipmaker, Sigma Designs

SILICON Labs has acquired Sigma Design’s Z-Wave chipmaking business, including its 100 staff, for $US240 million cash – a move that brings all short-range IoT standards under one roof. The acquisition means Silicon Labs’ smart home technologies now comprise WiFi, Zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth and proprietary protocols.

The Z-Wave protocol was designed to support simple and reliable home automation and Z-Wave has become a seriously big deal in IoT – there are more than 2400 certified, interoperable Z-Wave devices available from more than 700 Z-Wave Alliance manufacturers globally – that includes many local manufacturers.

In operational terms, every Z-Wave network governed by a single controller has the potential to incorporate up to 232 nodes. Each network comprises 2 sets of nodes – being controllers and slaves. These nodes can be configured to re-transmit signals – that’s the mesh capability of the network and it makes Z-Wave very dependable. Signals can hop between nodes 4 times, which gives significant coverage.

“Silicon Labs is a true powerhouse in the IoT space, and now, with the addition of Z-Wave, all of the short-range IoT connectivity options are together under one roof,” said Raoul Wijgergangs, general manager of Z-Wave for Silicon Labs. “This means manufacturers looking to develop smart home security can use Silicon Labs as a one-stop-shop for all their shortwave IoT solutions.

“In the smart home, we are working to solve the challenges facing consumers today such as making sure devices from various manufacturers perform in a uniform fashion with a high level of security across so that all devices work harmoniously together in the home. We see both challenges and opportunities to unify the smart home while simultaneously addressing security, interoperability, enrolment and usability to bring about a more streamlined smart home experience for end users.

“What makes Z-Wave successful is the diverse ecosystem of interoperable, secure and easy to install and use Z-Wave devices. The success of Z-Wave stems from the software investments we’ve made over many years. Silicon Labs recognized the strength Z-Wave software, and now, with all the short-range IoT standards in Silicon Labs’ portfolio, we can further unify and simplify the smart home for all users.”

Z-Wave was invented by Danish-American tech house Zensys in 1999 – Zensys was acquired by Sigma Technologies in 2008. The technology is built around wireless mesh network chips with a low power mode which means they can be active just 0.1 per cent of the time, making them perfect for battery-powered devices.