Cable Tech

Entropic Readies Its Run at Broadcom

Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) is squarely in the set-top box chip market after wrapping up its Trident Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: TRID) deal, putting the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) specialist on a bigger collision course with the much larger Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM). So, now what?

The first order of business is to "stabilize the organization," says Entropic SVP of Marketing and Business Development Vinay Gokhale, noting that the deal, which gives Entropic Trident's set-top system-on-chip (SoC) and Docsis silicon businesses, has about doubled Entropic's headcount (365 Trident people have joined Entropic). (See Entropic Takes $55M Stab at Trident and Entropic Sweetens Pot to Win Trident .)

But one item on the relative near-term agenda is very Broadcom-esque: integration. Entropic has specialized in developing MoCA silicon for partners such as Trident and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), but the plan now is to meld MoCA with Trident's STB SoCs -- something that Broadcom's already done with the MoCA technology it acquired from Octalica in 2007. (See Broadcom Jump Starts MOCA Strategy.)

That integration "is a very natural step," says Mark Samuel, a former Trident exec who is now SVP of Entropic's set-top box unit. "That process will happen quickly."

Entropic won't reveal its new product roadmap, but it will get to work on low-power gateways and set-top client designs that help MSOs and other service providers migrate from QAM video to IP. (See Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top .)

Also in the plan are chips that power a new breed of inexpensive hi-def Digital Transport Adapter (DTA) devices that MSOs are using to reclaim analog bandwidth. Trident's been in the standard-def DTA chip business for years, but Broadcom has dominated the early market for HD-DTA silicon. (See Broadcom Breaks Out HD-DTA Chipset .)

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) and Humax Co. Ltd. are among Trident's historic set-top box customers, but the company expects to announce some additional "significant wins" in the second quarter," Samuel says.

But one new market Entropic won't chase down right away is Docsis 3.0, a product category currently led by Broadcom and Intel. (See Intel Snares TI's Cable Modem Business .)

Trident is still shipping Docsis 2.0 silicon that was originally developed by Conexant Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CNXT), but Entropic execs say the company has no near-term plan to develop its own D3 products. It'll continue to rely on its partnership with Intel for that.

Although Entropic now finds itself in the set-top box chip businesses, it doesn't expect its current MoCA relationship with Intel to change much. Entropic intends to focus more on client boxes than on video gateways/media servers, which is Intel's concentration.

"Clients will be the majority of the market," Samuel says, noting that he expects see an average of three client devices deployed for every one gateway/server in the home.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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