Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Blackmagic Design acquires Teranex, slashes prices

Earlier today, TV Technology reported that Blackmagic Design has acquired Teranex, a digital image processing company, from Jupiter Systems for an unreported price. Teranex has had some excellent technology for years, especially for standards conversion, video denoising and upscaling/downscaling, but it's never been part of a company that was focused on broadcast technology. Teranex started in 1998 as a spin-off of Lockheed Martin, which invested more than $100 million in real-time video processing. Lockheed Martin, of course, was primarily focused on defense-related business, not broadcasting. In 2004, Teranex was acquired by Silicon Optix, which focused primarily on semiconductors and consumer-grade video scalers. Silicon Optix sold Teranex and most of its other products to Integrated Device Technology in October 2008, and IDT sold Teranex to Jupiter Systems, a video wall manufacturer, in June 2009. And now, 2 1/2 years later, Jupiter Systems has sold it to Blackmagic Design.

When a company has been bought and sold as many times as Teranex, it's very difficult to retain employees or to focus on long-term product plans. As a result, it's hard to know exactly what Blackmagic Design is getting. Teranex has some very interesting 3D software that enables two of its video processors to convert 2D to 3D and output 3D in a variety of formats. Combined with Blackmagic Design's ATEM production switchers, the Teranex products give the company much more extensive real-time image processing capabilities. However, many of Teranex's hardware designs are several years old, and could probably benefit from Blackmagic's abilities to redesign the products using current LSIs for lower cost and higher performance.

Update, December 14, 2011: StudioDaily reports that Blackmagic Design has slashed the price of Teranex's top-of-the-line VC100 universal frame synchronizer and format converter from $90,000 to $19,995. In addition, Blackmagic added additional features including dual-channel 3D support, so that it no longer requires two converters to handle 3D. Existing owners of VC100s can get the new features with a $3,000 upgrade. Even without redesigned hardware, Blackmagic has managed to reduce the price by almost 80%,

In short, the acquisition is certainly a good move for Teranex, which is finally partnered with a parent company that knows what to do with its technology. Depending on how much it cost Blackmagic Design and how old Teranex's technology is, the acquisition might or might not be such a great idea for it. We'll know more at NAB 2012, when we see the first displays of Teranex products in the Blackmagic Design booth.
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