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MaxLinear 'AnyWAN' chips target FTTP, DOCSIS and FWAMaxLinear 'AnyWAN' chips target FTTP, DOCSIS and FWA

MaxLinear's new family of gateway chips are designed to support multiple access networks and software platforms, and help its device and operator partners get a better grip on supply chain constraints.

Jeff Baumgartner

September 12, 2022

3 Min Read
MaxLinear 'AnyWAN' chips target FTTP, DOCSIS and FWA

MaxLinear isn't based in Switzerland, but the company appears to have launched the Swiss Army knife of gateway chipsets.

The Carlsbad, California-based chipmaker has introduced a new family of AnyWAN broadband gateway chipsets that target multiple network types and technologies, including fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), xDSL, fixed wireless access (FWA), DOCSIS and Ethernet.

In addition to beefing up gateway silicon competition with Broadcom, MaxLinear's approach comes about as telcos and cable operators move ahead with networks that support a wide range of access types. While several telcos are pursuing fiber upgrades of their copper networks, cable operators are continuing to support widespread hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks with DOCSIS along with some targeted deployments of FTTP. Meanwhile, some telcos and cable operators are also deploying FWA.

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MaxLinear's approach with its new family of AnyWAN systems on a chip (SoCs) also aims to be agnostic with respect to software, supporting platforms such as the Reference Design Kit (RDK), prpl, OpenWrt or software that's specific to a given device-maker.

"Some of the big value is that one core platform allows OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), ODMs (original design manufacturers) and operators to scale across everything and run the same software," Will Torgerson, VP and GM of MaxLinear's Broadband Group, explained. "It just minimizes the lift [and] maximizes the amount of opex spend that has to go into these boxes."

Supply chain aid

MaxLinear also believes that AnyWAN has a role to play in helping to relieve some of the nagging constraints on the supply chain.

"We're not out of the woods yet. But if you've got one family of parts that can support a whole bunch of different use cases, then that just helps you from a supply management perspective," Torgerson said.

The AnyWAN family comprises three products/models: MxL25641, URX850 and URX851. The MxL25641 is a dual-core, mid-range version of the chip intended for services that can deliver multi-gig speeds, up to about 5 Gbit/s. The more powerful URX850 and URX851 chips are higher-end quad-core chips designed to support faster symmetrical speeds using XGS-PON or a future version of DOCSIS.

MaxLinear is currently offering reference systems and samples of the new AnyWAN chips, starting with kits for RDK and OpenWrt. Torgerson expects AnyWAN products to reach volume production in the fourth quarter of 2022 with its first "lead customer" for the product, a yet-to-be-named US service provider.

MaxLinear hasn't announced any ODM or OEM partners for the chipset family but expects to shed more light on that in January at the CES gadgetfest in Las Vegas. But Torgerson noted that MaxLinear is seeing lots of interest, particularly in Europe, for AnyWAN hybrids that integrate both PON and DSL.

DOCSIS 4.0 on the roadmap

The chipmaker hasn't revealed any specific product plans for DOCSIS 4.0, a new set of CableLabs specs targeting multi-gigabit speeds, enhanced security and low-latency capabilities, or how that might fit into the AnyWAN roadmap.

"DOCSIS 4.0 is on our roadmap," Torgerson said, hinting that MaxLinear will have more specifics to share at next week's SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia.

The general AnyWAN concept links back to Intel and its 2015 acquisition of Lantiq. MaxLinear got its mitts on that work via its acquisition of Intel's home gateway unit.

But the launch of this family of AnyWAN chips marks the first products to be fully designed and developed from the ground up, Torgerson said.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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