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Comms chips

STM Buys Synad for $55M

French silicon vendor STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM) has made its long-expected jump into the wireless LAN chipset market today with the acquisition of U.K. startup Synad Technologies Ltd. for $55 million (see STMicro Aquires Synad).

The deal gives STMicroelectronics instant access to Synad's Mercury5G chipset technology, which supports all three current 802.11 standards -- a (54-Mbit/s over 5GHz), b (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz), and g (54-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) -- and over 50 wireless engineers. STM says that it will start shipping chipsets for access points and PC cards immediately.

Now that nearly all major chip providers have a wireless LAN chipset or two in their product line, analysts have been wondering how and when STMicroelectronics would enter the market. Unstrung published an article predicting that the Gallic provider could snap up Synad back in August (see Synad's Chipset Chitchat). [Ed. note: For a coupla bucks an hour we'll read your palm as well.]

STMicroelectronics' U.S. spokesman Mike Markowitz says that Synad's approach to developing wireless LAN chipsets -- using standard CMOS silicon building blocks rather than the more expensive RF components for the 802.11 radio -- should also help the company keep costs down (see Synad's Three-Way Play for more technical detail on this).

Markowitz notes that STMicroelectronics got a bargain with the buyout. "When you consider the cost per engineer it’s a very good deal," he says.

The agreement also ends speculation about the fate of Reading, U.K-based Synad. The startup had been scratching around to try and raise a third round of funding earlier this year but was lagging rivals like Atheros Communications Inc. and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) in the race to deliver multimode chipsets.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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