Distributors expand embedded services offerings

New embedded technology solutions and a key acquisition for Avnet in Europe topped component distribution news this summer

Electronics distributor Avnet Inc. announced in July the expansion of its presence throughout Europe with the acquisition of MSC Investoren GmbH, a European distributor of electronic components, embedded computing technology, and display solutions. Avnet said it will acquire “MSC Group” in a two-step approach, first acquiring a majority interest in the company with the intent to acquire the remainder “within a short time frame.”

MSC Group is a value-added distributor that leverages a combination of distribution, production, and system integration capability to address emerging customer demand for more complex electronic products. The company generated more than $450 million (U.S.) in revenue in 2012, with embedded computer technology (including display solutions) accounting for almost 50% of sales.

 “The addition of the MSC Group is a strong fit with our strategy to invest in margin-enhancing acquisitions that complement our existing design and supply chain services, while also expanding growth opportunities in the region,” Harley Feldberg, president of Avnet Electronics Marketing Global, said in a statement announcing the deal.

“With extensive engineering resources and a strong focus on design-in services, the MSC Group has built a solid reputation as a single source for complete solutions serving customers in the European industrial electronics market. By leveraging the combined skills of both organizations, we will be well positioned to better serve the needs of our customer base in the region,” he added.  

MSC Group will be integrated into the European business region of Avnet’s Electronics Marketing operating group. The company’s product portfolio complements Avnet’s core business in the region and improves its offering of microcontrollers, memory, programmable logic, opto, and LED products, said Patrick Zammit, president of Avnet Electronics Marketing EMEA.

“The embedded computing and display solutions businesses enhance our competencies in systems-level solutions, thereby increasing our value add with customers in these higher growth product segments,” Zammit explained. “We are excited about MSC Group and its talented employees as this represents another step in our business evolution as we progress up the technology value chain and provide additional services that our customers need.”

In a separate announcement, Avnet said its Rorke Global Solutions business unit has expanded its Paladin product line to include a new digital signage media player developed around the Intel Core architecture and the recently announced Intel Retail Client Manager content management software platform.

The Paladin digital signage media player is the first in a series of digital media products due out in the coming months, the distributor said, and is ideal for retail outlets, information points, or waiting areas such as medical facilities or transportation depots. It comes with a fully integrated content management system optimized for the Intel Core processor family. Rorke Global offers customization, installation, and integration services and was expected to add hosting and call center support for the Paladin product line by mid-August.

Solutions From Micrium, Cypress

In other embedded technology news, Micrium has announced a partnership with Clarinox Technologies for a best-in-class Bluetooth solution that couples the ClarinoxBlue application programming interface (API) with Micrium’s popular uC/OS-III Kernel solution, reducing development time, according to the companies.

ClarinoxBlue handles complex applications utilizing both multiple Bluetooth profiles and multiple local Bluetooth devices, allowing an application to interact with several local Bluetooth devices simultaneously, the company says. ClarinoxBlue provides a built-in protocol analyzer as a debugging tool to enhance visibility and simplify debugging, benefitting applications such as the formation of complex networks.

“For the very stringent applications where you would use Micrium, we are satisfied to recommend our customers use Clarinox for their Bluetooth needs,” says Christian Legare, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Micrium. “Micrium is always looking at partners that have many values in common with our own business values, and Clarinox is a perfect example.”

Earlier in the year, Cypress Semiconductor announced the first of two product families from its PSoC 4 programmable system-on-chip (PSoC) architecture, available through its authorized distributors. The PSoC 4100 family is the lowest-cost ARM-based PSoC, bringing PSoC flexibility and integration to cost-sensitive, high-volume applications. The PSoC 4200 family features faster processor and analog-to-digital converter (ADC) sampling speeds and PLD-based (programmable logic device) enhanced universal digital blocks (UDBs).

In addition, Cypress released its $25 PSoC 4 Pioneer Development Kit, which extends PSoC programmability to the established Arduino marketplace at an affordable price. The PSoC 4 PSoC architecture combines the company’s best-in-class PSoC analog and digital fabric and industry-leading CapSense capacitive touch technology with ARM’s power-efficient Cortex-MO core.

“Our first two PSoC 4 device families were specifically designed for high-volume, low-end, 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit embedded applications,” John Weil, senior director of PSoC marketing for Cypress’ Programmable Systems Division, said in announcing the release this spring. “There are an almost limitless number of applications that can benefit from the high flexibility, low power, and low cost of these families. Our team has executed flawlessly to deliver these products in record time, and our customers are eager to start designing.”

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