Silicon Labs’ IoT obsession

Silicon Labs President Matt Johnson introduced new IoT software and hardware products during the second annual Works With conference held virtually. (Silicon Labs)

Silicon Labs President Matt Johnson described his company’s obsession with IoT hardware and software products on the same day the company  announced new SoCs packed  with 10-plus years of battery life.

“IoT is all we do, think and obsess about,” he told reporters in an online event Tuesday.  “Our goal is to be the company in the IoT space.”

He noted that several months ago Silicon Labs divested itself of “anything unrelated to IoT and wireless…for focus.”

He recalled a time when  industry didn’t even know what IoT was or when it would happen. “What’s exciting—it is now.”

In recent months Silicon Labs divested of “anything unrelated to IoT and wireless,” Johnson said.  “The reason is for focus.”

In July, Austin, Texas,--based  Silicon Labs closed a deal to sell its infrastructure and auto business to Skyworks Solutions for $2.75 billion, about the time that Johnson was named as the successor to CEO Tyson Tuttle who will step down in January.

The company had nearly $887 million in 2020 revenues.

The SoCs unveiled—FG23 and ZG23-- are already in production and being sampled by some select companies, he said. IoT nodes using the chips will be able to reach 1-mile plus of range at sub-GHz frequencies. FG23 development kits are shipping for $40.

Silicon Labs also unveiled a Unify SDK for developers to help devices and gateways interoperate across various protocols such as Z-Wave and Zigbee, with plans to support Bluetooth , Thread, OpenSync and Matter.

Also, the company announced Security Services to provide Zero Trust security architectures for wireless SOCs and modules with a Custom Part Manufacturing Service, providing support services for up to 10 years.

The new SoCs are not intended to relieve a chip supply shortage affecting IoT and other verticals, Johnson said, although Silicon Labs is diverting R&D and resources to improve the available supply.  “The supply issue will be going on for some time, not just a few quarters, and going through next year,” Johnson said.

The global supply challenge, including for semiconductors, is something never seen before, he added. “We’re shipping more units year on year and the entire IoT sector is growing fast. For sure some companies are not getting supply and most, not all, are managing it, but it has not stunted the [IoT] industry in a fundamental way,” he said.

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