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Broadcom Unveils NewPort Chip

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) announced today that it will soon be selling a 10-Gbit/s DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) transport chip that it claims uses less power and moves data faster than competing chips made by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) (Nasdaq: AMCC), and Multilink Technology Corp..

NewPort Communications began developing this new product, now called the Broadcom BCM8511 Transport Processor, before Broadcom bought the firm last year for more than $1.2 billion (see Broadcom's on a Buying Spree and Broadcom Buys Its Way In).

Broadcom says the new chip will help equipment makers build smaller, more efficient DWDM systems (see Broadcom Intros 10-Gig DWDM Chip). And, though carriers are spending much less on transport systems in the long-haul than they used to, Broadcom says the money that's out there will flow toward higher channel-count DWDM systems, which would favor its new chip.

The NewPort chip's main advantage comes in how many functions it combines and the fabrication technique used to build it. The chip combines a digital wrapper encoder and decoder, a Forward Error Correction encoder and decoder, a 10-Gbit/s transceiver, and a Sonet/SDH framer. To oversimplify, these functions allow existing Sonet gear to move any kind of traffic while working to correct any errors in transmission by sending along extra bits to repair bad data.

All of this integration is important because it allows the chip to operate using one third the power of its competitors, Broadcom says. Also, the entire chip is fabricated in CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor), the popular semiconductor manufacturing process that yields chips that use less power than other methods. Similar products in DWDM transport applications use a combination of silicon germanium and CMOS, but are moving toward all-CMOS.

Broadcom says it is sampling the new chip to equipment vendors now and will be in full production by October 2001.

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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