Semiconductors and Components

Broadcom Pushes On in Wireless, Sells Ethernet Line

19 February 2014

Fabless chip company Broadcom Corp. (Irvine, Calif.) has announced it has developed a single-chip millimeter wave IC (MMIC) capable of operating at up to 10-Gbits per second.

At the same time Broadcom said it will sell certain 10/40/100-Gbit per second Ethernet controller assets, together with non-exclusive licenses to related intellectual property to QLogic Corp. (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) for $147 million. The patent licensing will earn Broadcom a fee of $62 million.

Broadcom rose to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s as a vendor of wired broadband communications ICs but has been eclipsed by its wireless focused Californian rival Qualcomm. The two developments coming emphasize that despite its origins in wired communications Broadcom sees a greater opportunity in wireless.

The BCM85100 system-chip is optimized for wireless back- and front-haul applications and enables capacity upgrades in software from Mbps up to 10Gbps over a single channel on a single antenna and with a single polarization.

It uses conventional modulations up to 256QAM with channels of up to 2-GHz bandwidth. The system–chip has an integrated analog front-end (AFE) and an IQ impairment correction mechanism. The chip is available in sample quantities although the company did not indicated when the BCM85100 would be available in volume quantities.

Millimeter wave back- and front-haul systems are being used increasingly for macro- and small-cell communications, Broadcom to explain why they have developed the IC.

"The millimeter-wave solution represents the next step in addressing these capacity needs and is proving to be a viable solution for backhaul in metro areas where range limitations aren't always problematic. Reaching 10 Gbps is a major milestone for the industry and raises the bar as an integrated SoC that will further drive the millimeter wave market," said Richard Webb, an analyst at Infonetics Research, in a statement issued by Broadcom.

Selling out in Ethernet

Meanwhile Broadcom has cut a deal with QLogic to exit Ethernet controllers but including an ASIC supply relationship in support of NetXtreme II Ethernet controllers.

"This transaction enables customers to be served without disruption by a leading partner, allows Broadcom to provide a broader solution portfolio overall and creates value for our shareholders," said Rajiv Ramaswami, general manager of Broadcom’s infrastructure and networking group, in a statement.

"We are pleased to enter into this partnership with Broadcom," said Prasad Rampalli, CEO of QLogic, in the same statement. "QLogic gains world-class technology, an immediate presence serving enterprise customer Ethernet controller needs and an important long-term partnership to deliver end-to-end solutions. Going forward, this acquisition will form the foundation of our Ethernet controller business and accelerates our time-to-market with leading-edge technology."

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of Broadcom and QLogic and is subject to customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of calendar 2014.

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