SiNett Gets $15M for Switch Chip

Wooooaah there! It’s an 802.11 chip startup with a twist

June 17, 2004

2 Min Read
SiNett Gets $15M for Switch Chip

Quiet Californian startup SiNett Corp. got a $15 million cash injection this week to further its strategy of building performance-enhancing chipsets for wireless LAN switches and other infrastructure appliances (see SiNett Secures $15M).

Founded in September 2002, the Sunnyvale-based company has to date remained silent on its market plans. It did announce an $8 million first round of funding in May last year.

“We have purposely been silent and low-key up to this point,” Shrikant Sathe, co-founder and VP of marketing, tells Unstrung. “We are happy to change that now.”

For, unlike the vast majority of 802.11 chipset vendors, SiNett is not building a wireless chipset for client devices and access points. “We are not doing anything on the client side. We won’t do anything that goes into access points or laptops," Sathe says.

Instead, according to Sathe, SiNett's silicon will be targeted at “wireless LAN switch vendors and appliance/controller vendors; companies like Aruba, Airespace, and Trapeze that are currently using solutions built around multiple chips. Then there are the companies on the traditional wireline side trying to get into the enterprise wireless market. Names like Cisco and Extreme.”

Sathe is unwilling to divulge specific details of the kit, stating only that “the product family will be coming out in the second half of this year.”

But the firm appears to have put together a product that will bring together on one chipset an Ethernet switch with a network processor and a security chip. Combining these three, usually separate, chips on one board could result in price and performance benefits for infrastructure vendors using the product.

“It’s one step removed from a wireless LAN chipset,” says The Linley Group’s Bob Wheeler. “The switch products [SiNett is targeting] are currently built around some combination of off-the-shelf silicon that includes a fast Ethernet switch typically from Broadcom or Marvell, a security processor from the likes of Cavium, and then usually a network processor from maybe Intel. SiNett is going for a more integrated approach... It’s a completely unique product, to the best of my knowledge.”

Wheeler believes SiNett’s management team of Maverick Networks co-founders gives the startup a headstart “from a technical perspective,” but remains unclear as to the business case. “In terms of the business perspective, the challenges are tied to which network architecture enterprises will opt for. Sure, it can be done. The question is: What is the relative cost and performance of SiNett’s offering?”

SiNett’s Sathe is upbeat about the company's prospects. “We have multiple customers who have purchased our development kit, and that is functionally identical to what is going to go in the silicon. It’s quite unusual to have customers at this stage. Normally people wait for you to have a product out before committing to building a box around your silicon.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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