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Bit Parts: Cashing In on Chips

Carolyn Mathas
News Analysis
Carolyn Mathas

Welcome to "Bit Parts," a regular roundup of the technology, R&D, financial, and jobs news from the communications components sector.

Here are the latest headlines that caught our eye:

  • FPGA and SoC specialist Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) reported higher-than-expected first-quarter revenues of $461.1 million, up 12% from a year ago. "The quarter exceeded our expectations as stronger than anticipated Chinese LTE deployments drove wireless sales," said John Daane, president, CEO and chairman (yes, three jobs in one!), in the company's earnings release. The company's share price rose more than 4% to $35.50 in after-hours trading late Thursday. Read more about Altera in our recent look at the company's recent developments, The M&A Way to Achieve 400G Goals.

  • Comms chip giant Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) also posted better than anticipated financials late Thursday, reporting revenues of $1.98 billion, though that was slightly down from a year ago. But despite the good results, the firm's stock dipped by about 2% in after-hours trading to $30.50 due to concerns about fierce competition in the 4G chip sector, as this Reuters article notes.

  • Continuing the trend, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. also reported first-quarter results that exceeded expectations, announcing revenues of $1.13 billion that were boosted by network rollouts in China. The company noted that sales for its Digital networking division were up by about 23% year-on-year at $249 million, with the growth "broad based across service provider, enterprise and general embedded segments. Sequentially, the networking business benefited from higher sales of service provider equipment, including wireless base stations in China." That wasn't enough to stop its stock dipping by 1.5% in after-hours trading to $25.50, though that did follow a 4.4% rise during Thursday.

  • ATCA specialist Kontron AG has helped Canadian video optimization partner Vantrix Corp. develop two transcoding solutions designed to help content service providers, including cable operators and telcos, deliver more efficient multiscreen video services. The multiscreen live transcoder and VoD (video-on-demand) transcoder, which support multiple formats (including 4K UHD and Adaptive Bitrate delivery), both run on Kontron's SYMKLOUD platform. Kontron recently announced full-year 2013 revenues of €445.3 million ($616 million), in line with expectations. (See this Kontron release and Kontron Intros Symkloud.)

  • ATCA management software could accelerate complex systems integration by up to 40%, according to Artesyn Embedded Technologies. With its System Services Framework (SSF) management suite for Artesyn ATCA systems, customers can configure and monitor the hardware and software elements of a single ATCA shelf or multiple shelves. A GUI delivers a view of system configuration, events and alarms, and a way to configure switches or payload blades and system access.

  • Chinese FTTH component vendor APAT Optoelectronics Components Co. is to take over Avago Technologies Pte. 's Taiwan R&D Center, including the staff and facilities. The R&D Center has expertise in 10Gbit/s and 40Gbit/s laser and transceiver design. As part of the deal, Avago is to supply chips that APAT will integrate into its transceivers. APAT has also forged a strategic partnership with chip vendor Semtech Corp. (Nasdaq: SMTC), which will supply ICs for all of the Chinese vendor's products. Avago is in the process of buying LSI Corp. (NYSE: LSI) for $6.6 billion as a way to get into the storage chips sector and reduce its reliance on the wireless market. (See Avago to Buy LSI for $6.6B.)

  • Next-gen electro-optic device developer Lightwave Logic Inc. has picked up an exclusive worldwide license agreement to Corning's organic electro-optical materials. Lightwave will integrate Corning's organic chromophores into its portfolio of electro-optic polymers for use in communications, computing, power and power storage apps that need nonlinear optical properties. The Corning agreement adds to the growing number of combinations of electro-optical materials specifically targeting data centers and telecom networks.

  • Communications and military use of high-energy lasers (HEL) are hamstrung by legacy laser systems size, weight, power needs and atmospheric turbulence. To tackle that issue, DARPA's Excalibur program has developed a 21-element optical phased array (OPA), each array element driven by fiber laser amplifiers that can hit a target more than four miles away. Continued development and testing may lead to multi-100 kilowatt-class HELs in a package 10 times lighter and more compact than legacy high-power laser systems.

  • The market for packet-optical switch infrastructure is growing rapidly, propelled by the continued rapid uptake of 100G in long-haul networks. That's the main finding in the latest edition of Heavy Reading 's Next-Gen Core Packet-Optical Market Tracker. To find out more, see Core 100G Fuels Packet-Optical Switching Growth.)

  • Still with Heavy Reading, "The Rise of 100G & Terabit Transport Networks" is a recent Heavy Reading report that "tackles the challenges and opportunities of high-speed DWDM transport, in both long-haul and metro networks, looking at both 100G and B100G [Beyond 100G]." The report presents comprehensive forecasts for long-haul and metro DWDM transport, with breakouts for units shipped, capacity shipped, revenue contribution by port speed and more. In addition, the report analyzes key enabling technologies for B100G and provides a roundup of significant B100G trial activity over the past year. (See Going Beyond 100G? Not So Fast….)

  • According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report, "Analysis of the Global Fiber Optic Test Equipment Market," 2013 revenues for this market reached $603.8 million, and is set to increase to $884.9 million by 2020 thanks to significant mobile rollouts that will include fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA), fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT), distributed antenna systems (DAS), and cloud or centralized-radio access networks (CRAN).

    — Carolyn Mathas, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/28/2014 | 11:26:55 PM
    given the political and economic history
    Chinese equipment manufacturers buying Taiwanese R&D centers! Given the political and economic history of the two countries, this is nothing short of magnificent. I am impressed to see that Chinese companies are climbing that curve.
    User Rank: Blogger
    4/27/2014 | 5:04:22 PM
    Interested to know how those optical acquisitions are paying off. Maybe LTE can keep Altera busy until 400G picks up.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/27/2014 | 8:42:02 AM
    Cashing In On Lasers
    With a suspicion that high tech military hardware often leads the pack in producing profits (once the package is sold to the government of course) the high energy laser projects seems like a likely money maker. The developent of lower weight hardware systems, with a longer range will surely be a win-win for someone. Of course, these deals are often highly speculative and depend more than one would like on factors unknown.
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