Comms chips

AMCC Tops NPU Revenues

Network processor vendors talk big, but recent research indicates it's just talk. Slow sales are making the market a money-losing game for every player involved.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), for instance, has been doing the most bragging about design wins, but it's certainly not the biggest fish in the pond.

According to figures released Friday by The Linley Group, the leader in network-processor revenues is Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) (Nasdaq: AMCC), with a 38 percent share of the $65 million market last year. Intel's 11 percent share puts it fourth in the ranking.

Intel has crowed about its network processor coups, but its IXP1200 chip sells for less than $200 and has yet to latch on to a big-money account. "A lot of the design wins they're touting are with the small companies who didn't buy as many chips," says Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group.

Intel did rank second in unit volume shipped, after AMCC, Gwennap notes.

Also behind AMCC in the revenue rankings were IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) (19 percent) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) (15 percent). Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR/A) ranked fifth with 9 percent, but The Linley Group's figures don't include a nonprogrammable OC12 chip, the APC, which would have put Agere's revenues at AMCC's levels.

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS) showed up toward the bottom of the research firm's ranking -- not surprising, considering the company halted development on the 10-Gbit/s version of its IQ2000 (see Vitesse Drops Some Packets).

"[Vitesse] are just cutting their costs," says Simon Stanley, principal analyst of U.K. consultancy Earlswood Marketing Ltd. He notes the chip hasn't necessarily been discontinued but is probably no longer supported. "There's a reasonable chance it will die a slow death, because a network processor is something you choose expecting good support."

At the bottom of the rankings were startups Silicon Access Networks Inc. and EZchip Technologies, both of which have shipped products for small amounts of revenues (see EZchip Lands $13M and More).

While network processor vendors are encouraged that sales finally began coming in last year, it's been at a slow clip. The chip vendors have claimed a combined 600 design wins, many of which have never panned out for revenues. Each major vendor wound up spending $50 million or more to stay in the race last year, Gwennap says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

edgecore 12/5/2012 | 12:52:51 AM
re: AMCC Tops NPU Revenues
Each major vendor wound up spending $50 million or more to stay in the race last year, Gwennap says.

...and the total market was $65M...makes no sense at all...

How much of that $65M was in development platforms (which are a good barometer for the production $$$ to come later.

What are the Linley predictions for this total market say in 3-5 years?

BobbyMax 12/5/2012 | 12:52:42 AM
re: AMCC Tops NPU Revenues It is hard to believe so many companies in the network processor for a total market of $58 million. the company that lost most money and wasted resources. They acquired companies like Xaqti which they acquired for $65 million. Vitesse does not have anything to show far. They acquired a company a company located in MA ( forgetting the name of the company) and paid over $760 million.

There are not much opportunities in the network processor business. The VC community is also a loser as they funded companies that did not produce much. Chip industry like a cottage industry and that is why a lot of companies have emerged in California.
edgecore 12/5/2012 | 12:52:36 AM
re: AMCC Tops NPU Revenues
The key question still is:

Are OEM's really plannin gto use NPU's, and I think the answer is Yes, but we have no proof!


How many new design wins (new ones)did the NPU companies get in 2002, what is the forecast of design wins for 2003?

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