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Comms chips

Netronome Expands Its Mission

Netronome is well on its way toward the next phase of its mission -- producing chips to follow up the Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) IXP line -- and has another $23 million in its pocket to help the cause.

The Series D round, led by DFJ Esprit LLP , was announced Wednesday morning. (See Netronome Lands Series D.) It brings Netronome's total amount raised to $76 million.

Netronome, founded by FORE Systems veterans, was in the business of building boards that used the Intel IXP2800 network processors. Intel kicked that product to the closet, though, so Netronome bought the rights to the high-end variants of the chip -- devices intended for boxes like core routers -- in 2007 and has begun updating the chips, under the name Network Flow Processor (NFP). (See Netronome Boosts Net Processors and Netronome Reigniting Intel's IXP.)

The NFP was launched last year, and Netronome claims it's working out fine. The company is profitable and expects "to more than double our revenues this year," says Jarrod Siket, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Among the obvious markets for the NFP are all the old IXP designs that have been waiting for an upgrade. And there are apparently a lot of them. Even though Intel stashed the IXP into the closet, the chip is still among the most popular high-end processors in use, according to Heavy Reading. (See Cavium Climbs Multicore Ranks .)

Naturally, Netronome has also announced boards based around the NFP. But it took a more interesting step at Interop last month, saying it's designing a 200-Gbit/s server that uses the new NFP-3240 processor and some Intel Xeon 5600 chips as well.

It's aimed at the designers of security systems and other networking boxes -- in other words, the same customers Netronome typically sells to. The server, called the Netronome Network Flow Processing Platform, gives those customers the option of concentrating only on application software, using the server as the basis for a network appliance.

This product got announced as an off-the-shelf offering, but Netronome has worked in custom fixed-configuration systems before, in a sense. Systems integrator Kontron AG , a Netronome customer, has built servers designed around Netronome's chips, Siket says.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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