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Qualcomm buys Bigfoot for home entertainment push

TelecomsNews
, 06 Sep 2011News

Bigfoot Networks, creator of high-performance consumer-grade networking devices aimed at the gaming market, has confirmed its acquisition by semiconductor giant Qualcomm for an undisclosed sum.

According to a terse note from a Bigfoot spokesperson, the acquisition was quietly completed back in August by Qualcomm Atheros, a subsidiary of Qualcomm formed when the company purchased wireless specialist Atheros to boost its smartphone and tablet chip offerings.

Qualcomm has its fingers in many pies, from the Snapdragon application processors that power many of today's tablets and smartphones to its WiPower inductive technology for wire-free gadget charging. The company has plenty of experience in the gaming arena on mobile - even launching its own augmented reality software development kit to help game developers along - but hasn't done much work on the desktop.

By contrast, Bigfoot is a name that hardcore desktop gamers will recognise: the company's Killer line of network cards cost a pretty penny but offers features above and beyond those available on standard consumer-level equipment in order to reduce the latency of a user's connection.

In a twitch FPS games like the still popular Quake III Arena every millisecond counts, and there are plenty of gamers willing to shell out the extra to upgrade their onboard hardware to a Bigfoot model in order to gain the alleged benefits of reacting to threats that few fractions of a second sooner.

The link between mobile devices - which are typically high latency, through no fault of their own - and Bigfoot's low-latency high-cost gaming hardware isn't immediately clear. "The explosion of online applications and content, and the growing number of devices that access these applications, places increased stress on consumer end points," claims the company's statement on the deal. "The Killer technology is well positioned to address this challenge with solutions that intelligently manage, prioritise and direct digital content on home and mobile networks.

"Bigfoot Networks' team and technology were acquired in August, 2011 by Qualcomm Atheros, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, to deliver value-added intelligent networking solutions dedicated to enhancing the end user networking experience," the statement concludes.

While a trifle vague, it certainly appears - from our intepretation, at least - that Qualcomm is hoping to leap Bigfoot from the gaming arena to embedded home entertainment systems such as IPTVs and set-top boxes. With streaming media services enjoying a period of impressive growth, that could prove a sound move on Qualcomm's part.

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