Mercury acquisition capitalizes on RF, cyber, and anti-tamper technologies

Enhancing the company's expertise in RF and microwave, cybersecurity, and anti-tamper technologies are cornerstones of the acquisition by Mercury Systems of the embedded security, RF and microwave, and custom microelectronics businesses from Microsemi Corp.

CHELMSFORD, Mass. - Enhancing the company's expertise in RF and microwave, cybersecurity, and anti-tamper technologies are cornerstones of the acquisition by Mercury Systems of the embedded security, RF and microwave, and custom microelectronics businesses from Microsemi Corp.

Mercury completed its acquisition of the Microsemi embedded security, RF and microwave, and custom microelectronics businesses for $300 million. The Microsemi segments that Mercury is acquiring were known as White Electronic Designs in Phoenix; the Endwave Corp. defense electronics and security (D&S) business in Camarillo, Calif.; and Arxan Defense Systems in West Lafayette, Ind.

Microsemi acquired Endwave Defense in 2009, and White Electronic Designs and Arxan Defense Systems in 2010. The core expertise of the business segments passes to Mercury, which has carved out a niche in electronic warfare, RF and microwave technologies, and high-performance embedded computing.

Endwave Defense specialized in high-frequency RF solutions for defense electronics and security applications. White Electronic Designs specialized in secure anti-tamper, solid-state memory; multi-chip-on-board solutions for military applications; and small size, weight, and power consumption microelectronics. Arxan Defense, meanwhile, specialized in cyber security and anti-tamper software for military applications. These three segments had been folded into the Microsemi embedded security, RF and microwave, and custom microelectronics businesses. "We always are interested in more scale in RF, and are looking for more geographic footprints in RF," says Mercury Chief Technology Officer Ian Dunn.

Mercury executives also are concentrating on SWaP-constrained enabling technologies in RF and microwave, as well as in digital signal processing, Dunn says. "The smaller you go, the more you have to add value at the systems level, and we were interested in companies with multichip modules expertise."

What Mercury calls secure processing, however, is perhaps the most important component of the new acquisition, company officials say. Secure processing involves not only cybersecurity, but also activities, technologies, and tools that involve ways to secure embedded computing.

The term refers to "whatever you are doing to securing processing for mission, ground, and automotive applications, from trust to physical things, information assurance, and to securing the hardware for the target application," Dunn says.

Mercury is gaining secure processing capabilities in a big way from the acquisitions from Microsemi of the former White Electronic Designs and Arxan Defense Systems. In addition, the acquisition from Microsemi is boosting Mercury's expertise in microelectronics packaging, especially integrating digital and RF and microwave components on systems on modules rather than on separate circuit cards. "We're looking at packages that designers can surface-mount, rather than design onto a separate card," says Neal Austin, who is joining Mercury from Microsemi.

The acquisition brings millimeter wave expertise to Mercury that the company previously did not have, Austin says. This will help Mercury play in the smart munitions market, as well as in new electronic warfare applications like the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy.

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