Light Reading

Intel Snares TI's Cable Modem Business

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) shook up the Docsis world today with a deal to acquire Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN)'s cable modem product line, a category that includes chipsets that power a new breed of Docsis 3.0-powered data modems, voice modems, and home networking gateways.

Intel isn't disclosing financial terms of the deal, but the purchase will put more competitive pressure on one of Intel's chief rivals, Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which has been battling with TI on the Docsis chipset front for more than a decade. (See Intel to Buy TI's Cable Modem Unit.)

The purchase offers yet another clear indication that Intel has gotten serious with a cable strategy as MSOs and its suppliers start to develop more advanced Docsis-based devices that enable whole-home networking and the co-mingling of voice, data, and video services.

Among recent activity, Intel has been starting to target upcoming cable multimedia gateway devices with its Atom CE4100, a new media processor for digital TVs, DVD players, and "advanced set-top boxes." That chip, due out sometime next year, is designed to be backward-compatible with the CE3100, a processor that Intel's been using to run some recent tru2way set-top/gateway demos that leverage the Vividlogic (now SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC)) tru2way middleware stack. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is one of the MSOs already committed to use boxes that rely on Intel's system-on-chip (SoC) technology. (See Will Intel Go Inside Cable Multimedia Gateways? , SeaChange Snags VividLogic for $12M, and Intel Goes Inside Cable... Again.)

Intel didn't go into much detail in the announcement, but did note that it indeed plans to combine TI's "Puma" Docsis chip product lines with Intel's Atom-based SoC processors that, the chipmaker hopes, will serve as the foundation of a range of CE devices, including TVs, set-tops, and Blu-ray players.

"The objective is to provide cable OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with an open and powerful platform for delivering innovative and differentiated products to service providers that improve the video, voice and data content experience in the home," Intel said.

Intel said it has offered all employees of TI's cable modem team to join Intel at sites in their home countries, primarily Israel. A TI spokeswoman says TI employs about 40 in its cable division. Those who take the option will join Intel's Digital Home Group when the deal closes, expected sometime in the fourth quarter of 2010.

In TI, Intel is acquiring a cable modem specialist that has been integral to the development of Docsis technologies all the way to its current version, Docsis 3.0. Intel got off to a faster start with Docsis 3.0 as its chips powered the first wideband modems to be certified by CableLabs , starting off with gear modems that used a minimum configuration of four bonded upstream and four downstream channels. It surpassed more than 1 million D3 chipsets shipped back in January 2009. TI declined to provide any updated D3 shipment figures. (See Broadcom Breaks Docsis 3.0 Barrier and Broadcom: Sub-$50 Docsis 3.0 Modem in Sight .)

Broadcom and TI have since developed configurations that bond up to eight channels, including some products that allow some channels to be set aside for cable video services. As multimedia, video-focused gateways enter the picture, future chipsets are expected to bond 16 or 32 downstream channels -- enough capacity for MSOs to simulcast their broadcast video lineups in IP format. (See TI Flexes Docsis 3.0 Muscle .)

Bridge to the video gateway
The purchase certainly gives Intel a chair at the Docsis table, but it makes even more strategic sense for the chip giant now that cable operators are proposing to collapse video, data, and voice into a single gateway device, says Jeff Heynen, directing analyst of broadband video at Infonetics Research Inc.

The gateway concept "plays into Intel's strength with video chipsets and PC processors and [enhances it] when combined with TI's experience on the DSP side as well as with modem chipsets," Heynen says. "The timing is good because the refresh of [Docsis] CPE to add in those video capabilities is for the late stages of next year, and will likely take off in 2012 and beyond."

Heavy Reading senior analyst Alan Breznick thinks the deal will be "a real shot in the arm for the old TI unit and re-galvanize its efforts in the broadband chipset space."

He echoed that the deal will also position Intel for the next wave of home-side cable gear.

"And it should spur the development and deployment of Docsis set-top boxes and multimedia gateways, as well as the introduction of Docsis into more standard CE products," Breznick says. (See Gateway to (Video) Heaven?)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:26:39 PM
re: Intel Snares TI's Cable Modem Business

Given that just 40 of TI's employee base was dedicated to this business, it wasn't a huge piece of TI's biz and, on its own, won't put a dent into Intel's either.  But Intel is clearly buying this to rev up its broader video gateway initiatives.  And it sets things up for a big battle between Broadcom and Intel in the next phase of cable chip war.  JB

From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Sonus Shakes Up SD-WAN

10|2|15   |   7:22   |   (0) comments

Sonus CTO Kevin Riley sat down with Light Reading to discuss the trajectory of the company, its SDN ambitions and why Sonus is taking a market-disruptive approve to SD-WAN.
LRTV Interviews
CityFibre's Gigabit Vision

10|1|15   |   03:18   |   (1) comment

Mark Collins, director of Strategy & Public Affairs at competitive UK city network operator CityFibre, talks about his company's plans to help build Gigabit Cities.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Automate, Scale & Create With Juniper's vCPE Solution

10|1|15   |   6:34   |   (0) comments

Join Kireeti Kompella, Juniper Networks CTO, and Steve Saunders, Light Reading Founder and CEO, as they discuss Juniper Networks' approach to NFV showcased with a turnkey vCPE solution, which demonstrates how service providers can use automation to rapidly deploy services.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe: Day 1 Takeaways

9|29|15   |   05:47   |   (5) comments

Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre and Iain Morris sup a beer and discuss some of the key takeaways from the first day of Gigabit Europe 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit in Europe

9|29|15   |   04:24   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe 2015 event in Munich, Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie talks about the availability of gigabit broadband in Europe.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Band of Women

9|28|15   |   4:36   |   (0) comments

Brooks McCorcle, the president of AT&T's partner solutions divisions and a mathematician by trade, shares stats on AT&T's diversity and advice on how to create your own band of women at work.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Metaswitch's New CEO Martin Lund Discusses His Role

9|25|15   |   11:36   |   (0) comments

Technology industry veteran Martin Lund joins Metaswitch Networks this week as the company's new CEO. In this interview, Lund discusses his new role and the industry's progress with Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders. Lund believes that the industry disruption caused by SDN and NFV is creating opportunities for companies like Metaswitch – network software providers ...
It's All About That App

9|23|15   |   02:15   |   (2) comments

The long-range goal of service providers is to deliver app-specific network performance and that is showing up in technical developments today.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon's Healthy Approach to WiC

9|22|15   |   2:30   |   (2) comments

If you think there are too few women in comms, you should see the healthcare industry. Nancy Green, Verizon's healthcare global lead, shares ideas on what we can do about it.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
UBBF 2015 Highlights

9|22|15   |     |   (0) comments

Drilling down deeper into the transformation process will provide network operators with a practical look at building new businesses around a digital virtualized network architecture, and lay out some of the transition steps required, particularly in the struggle to enable more dynamic and focused enterprise network services.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
ActiveVideo's Cloud Virtualization Technology

9|22|15   |   7:23   |   (0) comments

ActiveVideo's CMO, Murali Nemani, discusses how virtualized CPE functions can deliver applications from the cloud to various devices at home.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Communication service providers realize that an ICT transformation is critical to their long-term survival, but most haven't yet committed to making it happen.
Hot Topics
Are Sports Next for Netflix?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/28/2015
Google Gives Huawei a US Device Boost
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/29/2015
Following the Bouncing Capex Ball
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/29/2015
Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/1/2015
Good News for NFV Interoperability
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 9/29/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
Hold My Calls, Indefinitely Click Here