Intel Buys West Bay

After concentrating on OC192 framers, Intel takes a step back to acquire OC48 technology

July 8, 2003

2 Min Read
Intel Buys West Bay

Hoping to move its optical networking plans more into the mainstream, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) today announced the acquisition of Sonet/SDH framer startup West Bay Semiconductor Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

Most of the 35 employees of the Vancouver startup will be joining Intel, says Chris Thomas, director of marketing for Intel's optical group (see Intel Acquires West Bay Semi). In addition to the products, Intel was also interested in the team, which consists of former PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS) veterans long on Sonet/SDH experience, Thomas says.

Most of the Intel engineering team is long on OC192, so by buying West Bay, which focuses on lower speed, Intel will head into new markets. "We do have multispeed devices -- the IXF30009 will do OC48 aggregated to 10 Gbit/s -- but they've been mostly targeted at 10-Gbit/s line rates," Thomas says.

West Bay has stuck to an OC48 strategy. The company hit the scene in 2001 with the WB1501, a framer that could combine 16 ports of OC3 into a single OC48 (see Has West Bay Got the Best Way?). The West Bay product line will help Intel sell into metro and edge networks, Thomas says.

One catch is that the four-year-old startup doesn't have any products shipping in volume yet, although a major French system vendor, Sagem SA, has sponsored the development of one of its chips (see Sagem Picks West Bay).

In general, however, West Bay has yet to establish its name against competitors such as Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) (Nasdaq: AMCC), Ample Communications Inc., Galazar Networks Inc., Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX), PMC-Sierra, and TranSwitch Corp. (Nasdaq: TXCC).

West Bay has shipped small quantities for revenue and is on track to deliver production volumes by the end of the year, Thomas says.

Its products include three follow-ups to the WB1501, targeting OC3 and OC12 networks, and the WB4500, a framer including features such as generic framing procedure (GFP) and virtual concatenation.

"The WB4500, at three watts, is already the lowest power OC48 GFP framer/mapper device on the market. The device also supports VCAT/LCAS and, unlike the Intel devices, includes a TDM crossconnect," says Simon Stanley, principal consultant at Earlswood Marketing Ltd. and author of Light Reading reports on next-generation Sonet silicon (see Making Sonet Ethernet-Friendly and Next-Gen Sonet Silicon).

"The acquisition is a good deal for both companies," adds Stanley. "The big value for Intel is the telecom expertise at West Bay as well as the excellent range of products that complement Intel's existing 10-Gbit/s framer/mapper products. The team at West Bay gains the financial backing to continue expanding their position in the next-generation Sonet/SDH market."

West Bay never took any venture money, having been touched by angels. The amount of funding was never disclosed.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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