Intel Completes Wind River Acquisition

Intel has announced the completion of its bid to buy Wind River Systems just five weeks after making the deal public. Wind River is known for its embedded software products, and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CPU manufacturer. When it announced the deal back in early June, Intel emphasized that the deal would "become part of Intel's strategy to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices."

At a price of one billion dollars, the Wind River acquisition won't stretch Intel's coffers, but it's not what one would call an impulse buy, either. I've seen this move characterized as a further wedge between Intel and Microsoft, but portraying Intel's decision to buy Wind River Systems as some sort of strategic maneuver against Redmond misses the larger point. Today, the battlefield isn't the OS on your desktop, it's the smartphone/MID in your pocket. By purchasing a company that specializes in embedded system software, Intel has neatly snagged itself a group of expert programmers, designers, and marketing types, all of whom understand both the needs of embedded customers and the limitations of the hardware in that product space.

This acquired expertise dovetails nicely with Intel's stated plans for Atom. Long-term, the CPU giant intends to build an Atom-powered ecosystem that stretches from budget smartphones to netbooks (and possibly notebooks as well). Whether Santa Clara can actually pull this off remains to be seen—the Atom processors we've seen to-date are merely the precursor to the future chips Intel plans to build. Regardless, bringing additional software development resources into the family fold could give Intel an efficiency and power consumption edge when coding for Atom.