A year after acquiring Dust Networks, Linear Technology is helping drive down power consumption and expand markets.
MILPITAS, Calif. -- When you make your first acquisition in 30 years,
you pray it doesn't blow up in your face. After all, you waited that
long, people expect you've thought it through.
So far, at the one-year anniversary of Linear Technology's purchase of
low-power wireless networking provider Dust Networks, no detonation.
"I think we lucked out on that acquisition," said Bob Dobkin,
Linear's co-founder and CTO. "We got a very good functioning
company. The technology works well. They have a lot of smart people
who haven't left."
One of those is Dust's erstwhile CEO, Joy Weiss (shown), an MIT-minted
engineer who cut her networking teeth for 15 years at Nortel. She's
now settled into her new title as president of Dust Networks at
Linear Technology, a nod to the brand recognition she
and her investors built (Dust parts, however, now take a LTC
"The only thing they lacked was sales," Dobkin noted. After the
December 2011 acquisition, "they moved from three sales
people to 200. I think we'll find the sales go up pretty quickly
In a world in which most acquisitions fail at one level or another,
it may be a simple cultural and engineering synchronicity that, so far, seems to be
In October, Linear rolled the martMesh LTC5800 SoC and
LTP5900 (module) families, said to be the lowest power IEEE
802.15.4-compliant wireless sensor networking products. The product--the first Dust part under the LTC naming convention--was
not an extension of the company's earlier technology but a complete
redesign, according to Erik Soule, Linear's vice president and general manager of signal conditioning products.
"This was a major re-architecting," Soule said.
So early into the acquisition, few might fault Dust for simply
tweaking the existing part and focusing on leveraging that big new
No such luck, according to Weiss.
The re-architecting stems from Dust's goal of broadening the
application base for its technology as much as possible.
is you want to be able to put a sensor anywhere," Weiss said. "The lower power I can make my stuff...the most cost effective it
becomes. It's sort of a virtuous cycle."
The LTC5800 is half as much power as its predecessor version, partly
because of that redesign. Broadcasting on spread spectrum at
2.4 GHz the LTC 5800 specs receive current a 4.5 mA and transmit
current at 5.4-9.7 mA.