In a move that stands to strengthen the hand of open source within the embedded Linux market, especially the automotive industry, the Linux Foundation has announced that microcontroller and chip manufacturer Renesas has become a gold member of the non-profit consortium.

Renesas, which is based in Japan, first became a member of the Linux Foundation in 2011. Its rise to "gold" status means that it will increase its engagement with the open source community, the Linux Foundation said.

The company contributes to the Automotive Grade Linux Workgroup, Yocto Project and Consumer Electronics Workgroup, all of which are initiatives sponsored by the Linux Foundation. In addition, it was a cofounder of the LTSI kernel for embedded systems.

Renesas's particular strengths are in embedded Linux for use in automobiles, a niche that the Linux Foundation sees as a vital growth area for the open source world going forward. "As a leading provider of semiconductors for the automotive industry, Renesas' products are playing a key role in smart car developments. Encouraged by recent IHS Automotive estimates that global sales of Linux in automotive will rise to 53.7 million units by 2020, Renesas is aggressively investing in the open source OS as it gains traction with infotainment systems," the Foundation said in a statement.

By becoming a gold member of the Linux Foundation, Renesas joins a small lineup of major technology ccompanies that also includes China Mobile, Cisco Systems (CSCO), Citrix Systems (CTXS), ETRI, Google (GOOG), Hitachi, Huawei, NetApp (NTAP), NYSE Technologies, Panasonic, SUSE, Toyota and Verizon Terremark.

Renesas is in attendance at the LinuxCon Japan event this week.