Wolfson Microelectronics

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Wolfson Microelectronics plc
TypePublic limited company
Digital signal processing,
Mixed-signal integrated circuits
FoundedEdinburgh (1984)[1]
Defunct28 April 2014 (2014-04-28)
HeadquartersEdinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Key people
Mike Hickey (CEO)
Andy Brannan (CCO)
David Milne (Co-founder)
Jim Reid (Co-founder)
Number of employees

Wolfson Microelectronics plc was a microelectronics and fabless semiconductor company headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland. It specialised in signal processing and mixed-signal chips for the consumer electronics market and had engineering and sales offices throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. In 2014 it was acquired by Cirrus Logic for £291 million.[2]


Started in 1984 by David Milne and Jim Reid. Within a year the company had 20 employees and a deal with Fujitsu.[3] Wolfson grew and floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 and be listed in the FTSE 250. Both Milne and Reid had connections with the University of Edinburgh; Reid attained a First Class Honours degree in EEE, and Milne directed the Wolfson Microelectronics Institute at King's Buildings from 1973 to 1985.[4] In February, 2007, when Milne chose to step down, he was replaced in his CEO role by Dave Shrigley, previously Vice-President at Intel Corporation. His departure was one of a number of executive changes in late 2006, as Financial Director George Elliott also stood down.

In 2006, Milne was declared Entrepreneur of the Year by the CBI, and Wolfson named Company of the Year.[5] In November 2006 David Shrigley became the CEO of Wolfson, his first appointment at this level: he had previously worked for Intel in the Asia-Pacific region, and held directorships elsewhere.[6]

In September 2008, Mike Hickey joined Wolfson as Chief Executive Officer Designate and became Chief Executive Officer on 1 January 2009. Mr Hickey joined Wolfson from Motorola Inc, where he had held various senior positions in Motorola’s mobile device business.[7] In July 2009, Andy Brannan joined Wolfson as Chief Commercial Officer. Mr Brannan previously held the position of VP of Nokia's SOSCO business, and prior to that spent eight years as Executive VP of Sales & Customer Operations at Symbian Ltd.[8]

Cirrus Logic acquired the Wolfson for 235p per share in April 2014, valuing the company at £291 million.[9][10]


analog-to-digital converter WM8775 made by Wolfson placed on an X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro sound card.

Wolfson products have found applications within the digital audio player market, such as in Microsoft's Zune product line, including the Zune 30, Zune 80, and Zune HD, Cowon's line of mp3 and PMP players, as well as providing the codec functionality for much of Apple Inc.'s iPod series (with the exception of the iPod shuffle[11] and iPod classic[12]) and Sony's PSP.[13] Wolfson chips have also found place in the Microsoft Xbox game console, Logitech Squeezebox Duet[14] and the PalmOne Treo smartphone, with the Apple connection continuing with the earlier versions of the iPhone[15] and iPod touch.[12][16]

Wolfson audio products can also be found in most Tegra 2 SoC devices and some devices like the Samsung Wave S8500 and Samsung i9000 Galaxy S smartphones[17] as well as a number of LG phones including the LG-LB4400 music phone and the Android-powered LG Optimus GT540 smartphone.[18]

In April 2010, Wolfson signed a licence agreement with Tensilica to create a low power, high-definition (HD) sound platform.[19]

Wolfson's chipsets were known for delivering high-quality sound that matched or surpassed the offerings of well-established manufacturers like Cirrus Logic. After replacing Wolfson's chip with a chip from Cirrus Logic there was a minor decline in Apple's iPod sound quality when connected with high-end audio gear despite the improved board design.[20][21]

Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi

Wolfson Microelectronics also produced the Audio Cards for Raspberry Pi Model B Rev 2 named Wolfson Audio Card.[22][23] After Wolfson Microelectronics was purchased by Cirrus Logic the Audio Card for Raspberry PI Model B+ was renamed Cirrus Logic Audio Card.[24]

IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal[edit]

With initial funding from Wolfson, an award called the IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal was established in 2006 by the IEEE and Royal Society of Edinburgh. This award recognizes work with "exceptional impact on the development of electronics and electrical engineering or related fields".[25][26][27]


  1. ^ a b Scotsman 30 April 2014, US firm chips in for takeover of Wolfson Micro, retrieved 2020-08-02; sometimes access via Google necessary.
  2. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-27202322 29 April 2014, retrieved 1 August 2020.
  3. ^ Petrie, Gordon (3 February 1986). "Wolfson's Fujitsu deal first of several ventures". The Glasgow Herald. p. 15. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Wolfson Press Release". Wolfsonmicro.com.
  5. ^ "Chip hooray as Wolfson scoops double honour". Edinburgh Evening News. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Meet the new man at Wolfson". electronicsweekly. 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  7. ^ "Appointment of Mike Hickey as Chief Executive Officer Designate". Investegate. 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  8. ^ "Former VP of Nokia to lead Sales & Product Marketing at Wolfson". Investegate. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  9. ^ "An audio chip giant is born: Cirrus Logic buys Wolfson Microelectronics in $467M deal". VentureBeat. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  10. ^ "Cirrus Logic completes Wolfson Microelectronics takeover". BBC News. 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  11. ^ "Wolfson Microelectronics again supplies the audio codec with headphone amp". Electronic Engineering Times. 2007-01-05. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  12. ^ a b "Wolfson sales on track as it plays down iPod blow". The Scotsman. September 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  13. ^ "Wolfson produces mixed-signal semiconductors for the digital consumer electronics market, including chips for the iPod and Sony's PSP". ZDNet. October 26, 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  14. ^ "Squeezebox Duet Network Music System". Archived from the original on 2008-05-26. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  15. ^ "Wolfson set to ring up profits from iPhone sales". The Scotsman. 2007-01-12. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  16. ^ Arnott, Sarah (March 28, 2008). "'Wolfson slumps on loss of Apple contracts". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  17. ^ "Samsung selects Wolfson's WM8994 for latest Bada and Android smartphones". CIE: Components in Electronics. 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  18. ^ "Wolfson Electronics' audio technology adopted by LG smartphones". IET: The Institution of Engineering and Technology. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  19. ^ "Wolfson Licences Tensilica HiFi Audio to Provide a High Quality, Power Efficient Sound Platform". Yahoo! Finance. April 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  20. ^ Eliot von Buskirk (2007-09-18). "IPOD CLASSIC'S SOUND QUALITY CALLED INTO QUESTION". Wired. Wired Mag.
  21. ^ "Expert audio quality test: 5th gen iPod vs. iPod classic". 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-04-24. Retrieved 2019-04-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Wolfson Audio Card User Documentation" (PDF). Cdn-reichelt.de. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-01-20. Retrieved 2019-04-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ Jason Laday (January 11, 2007). "IEEE/Royal Society of Edinburgh And Wolfson Microelectronics Create New Award". The Institute. IEEE. Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  26. ^ "IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal". IEEE. Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  27. ^ "IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award". Royal Society of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2011-09-23.

External links[edit]