FTDI

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FTDI
Type Private
Industry Semiconductor industry
Founded March 13, 1992
Founders Fred Dart
Headquarters Glasgow, Scotland
Website www.ftdichip.com

Future Technology Devices International, commonly known by its abbreviation FTDI, is a Scottish privately held semiconductor device company, specializing in Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology.[1]

It develops, manufactures, and supports devices and their related software drivers for converting RS-232 or TTL serial transmissions to USB signals, in order to allow support for legacy devices with modern computers.[2]

FTDI provides application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design services. They also provide consultancy services for product design, specifically in the realm of electronic devices.

History[edit]

FTDI was founded on March 13, 1992 by its current CEO Fred Dart. The company is an indirect descendant of Computer Design Concepts Ltd, a former semiconductor technology startup, founded by Dart.

FTDI's initial products were chipsets for personal computer motherboards, the primary customer of which was IBM, which used them in its AMBRA and PS/1 personal computers. It later expanded its product line to include interface translators, such as the MM232R and the USB-COM232-PLUS1, along with other devices for converting between USB and other communication protocols.

Currently, the headquarters for FTDI is located in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, while it also has offices in Singapore, Taipei, Taiwan, and Portland, Oregon. The company's manufacturing division is handled by subcontractors in the Asia Pacific region.

Driver controversy[edit]

On 29 September 2014, FTDI released an updated version of their USB-to-Serial driver for Windows on their website,[3] soon afterward, users manually downloaded the new driver and reported problems.[4] After Windows drivers became available on October 14th (Patch Tuesday) via Windows Update, it was reported by users of hardware enthusiast forums and websites that the drivers could soft brick counterfeit and software-compatible clones of the chips by changing their USB "Product ID" to "0000". The change prevents the chip from being recognized by drivers of any OS, effectively making them inoperable unless the product ID is changed back.[5] The behaviour was supported by a notice in the drivers' end user license agreement, which warned that use of the drivers with non-genuine FTDI products would "irretrievably damage" them.[5] Critics felt that FTDI's actions were unethical, considering that users may be unaware that their chips were counterfeit, or that Windows had automatically installed a driver meant to disable them.[6][5][4][7] On 22 October 2014, an emergency patch was made to the FTDI drivers in the Linux kernel to recognize devices with the "0000" ID.[8]

On 24 October 2014, in response to the criticism, FTDI withdrew the driver and admitted that the measure was intended to protect its intellectual property and encourage users to purchase genuine FTDI products. The company also stated that it was working to create an updated driver which would notify users of non-genuine FTDI products in a "non-invasive" manner.[9][6]

Distribution[edit]

FTDI sells its products through major distributors, such as Arrow / DigiKey / Mouser / Future in North America, and numerous distributors around the world.[10] FTDI also sells products through its ftdichip.com website.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]