Philips hooks up for wireless chips

Philips Semiconductor snaps up Systemonic, which designs high-speed wireless chips that will be incorporated into televisions and other consumer-electronics products.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Philips Semiconductor on Thursday announced it will buy Systemonic, which designs high-speed wireless chips that will eventually be incorporated into televisions and other consumer-electronics products.

Systemonic specializes in chips that use the 802.11a and 802.11g wireless standards. The processors can transmit data over wireless networks at far higher rates than chips using the most popular standard, 802.11b, also known as Wi-Fi. Higher transfer speeds mean that consumers can swap videos, digital camera photos, and MP3 files between PCs and entertainment devices once the infrastructure is established.

"You can sit in front of your PC with a headset or you can listen to (MP3 music files) on your stereo," said Todd Antes, director of marketing and business development at Philips Electronics.

Philips already makes 802.11b chips, which will be featured in Intel's Banias notebooks coming in the first half of next year. But Philips has not released 802.11a or 802.11g chips.

The first Systemonic chipset, which will be capable of handling 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g signals, will come out in the first quarter, while products containing the two-chip chipset will appear in the second half of 2003.

"You're typically looking at a three- to six-month window" between when chips first go to electronics makers and products incorporating them are finalized for manufacturing, Antes said.

One of the key aspects of the upcoming chipset, Antes added, is that it is programmable and therefore can be tweaked to conform to future 802.11 standards. That's important because 802.11g has yet to be finalized. Standards for security also remain in development.

Philips will likely be one of its own biggest customers. The company is a major manufacturer of televisions around the world. The technology will also eventually be incorporated into Philips' Nexperia "system on a chip" processors for handhelds, cell phones and home gateways. Modem and notebook makers will also likely adopt the chip, Antes said.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.