Intel to Buy Embedded Systems Maker Wind River

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Gargantuan chipmaker Intel has made a major move in the embedded systems market, announcing an agreement to acquire Wind River for some $884 million in cash. Wind River makes the proprietary VxWorks real-time embedded operating system, which is widely used in consumer products like appliances and vehicles. By acquiring Wind River, Intel essentially guarantees that its x86 platforms will be major players in the embedded systems area, and makes the company’s technology a serious competitor to British embedded RISC processor maker ARM.

“This acquisition will bring us complementary, market-leading software assets and an incredibly talented group of people to help us continue to grow our embedded systems and mobile device capabilities,” said Intel VP Renee James, in a statement. “Wind River has thousands of customers in a wide range of markets, and now both companies will be better positioned to meet growth opportunities in these areas.”

The Wind River acquisition may be the second major blow in a week for ARM; Reuters has reported that Microsoft will not support running Windows 7 on netbook computers with ARM CPUs, although ARM chips could still be used to power netbooks running Linux and other operating systems.

Wind River’s VxWorks is widely known as a highly reliable real-time operating system for embedded devices—so much so that it’s even found its way into NASA’s Mars Rovers, although NASA has since been focusing on embedded real-time Linux systems. By acquiring Wind River, Intel assures that the x86 platform will be a premiere technology for embedded use in a variety of industries and products, including mobile phones, portable media players, and Internet-enabled portable devices, as well as vehicles, in-car “info-tainment” systems, networking gear, and much more.