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Silicon Labs doubles down on connected devices after auto chip spinoff

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By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - Silicon Laboratories Inc on Tuesday introduced new chips and software to deepen its pursuit of the internet-of-things (IoT) market after completing a spinoff of several business units earlier this year.

The Austin, Texas-based company sold off https://www.reuters.com/technology/silicon-labs-sell-infrastructure-automotive-unit-275-bln-2021-04-22 some automotive chip assets and other lines of business to Skyworks Solutions Inc for $2.75 billion to sharpen its focus on providing chips for connected devices such as smart home gadgets, smart power meters and connected industrial machines that collect data that can be analyzed to make production more efficient.

The problem Silicon Labs is trying to solve is straightforward but technologically complex: while all of those devices eventually connect to the internet, they use a bushel of shifting wireless communications standards to get there.

Silicon Labs is trying to develop a chips and software that gadget makers can buy off the shelf and use without having to become experts in each wireless technology as it changes.

On Tuesday, the company announced a new chip aimed at sending data back to the internet using very small batteries that could be used in devices like the window and door sensors in home security systems. The company also said it has developed a system to let customers put their own security measures into chips during the manufacturing process to harden the chips against being hacked.

But its biggest announcement was a set of software tools that it will release for free to all IoT device makers. The aim of the software is to be a universal translator between different wireless technologies, to avoid devices that might no longer function if a standard falls out of favor in the next few years.

"All your solutions will still communicate with each other and work," Silicon Labs President Matt Johnson, who will become chief executive next year, told Reuters in an interview. "Tools and software are the real catalyst for allowing our industry to go faster, not just the silicon."

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco. Editing by Jane Merriman)