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Cypress Wants a Piece of Search Pie

The market for search-engine chips -- devices combining search tables with logic -- has been dominated so far by Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) (Nasdaq: IDTI). But officials at Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: CY) claim they've stormed the market in the past year, to the point where they're contending for the top spot in this arena.

In fact, the battle looks to be heating up, as Cypress officials move into the trash-talking phase.

"We are just over 40 percent [market share] right now," says Gangesh Ganesan, product marketing manager.

Naturally, IDT officials are a bit skeptical. "Depending on whose data you look at, our market share is 50 to 60 percent," says Dave Cech, IDT director of marketing. "Based on the information I have, 40 percent seems a bit high for Cypress." Moreover, market research firm ISuppli Corp. still lists IDT in the No. 1 position for network search engines, Cech says.

So what's got Cypress interested in this market? Search-engine chips provide extra logic when more power is needed for complex network table lookups. This will become more important as systems vendors look to apply policies and quality of service. It's also becoming more important as routing tables get bigger and more dveices arrive with IPv6.

The key for Cypress has been the acquisition of Lara Networks (see Cypress Goes Long on Line Cards). Lara brought a key design win with Cisco and the promise of new devices such as the Ayama 10000, which began sampling today (see Cypress Samples NSE).

The Linley Group.

Cypress has two lines of new search engines unfolding. Its Ayama chips are being used for policy tables, while the company is developing chips called Sahasra -- fruits of another acquisition (see Search Engines Face Software Challenge) -- for large routing tables. Sahasra isn't due to start sampling until later this year.

Cypress expected the Ayama 10000 to sample by the end of 2002 but delayed the part to accommodate the company's manufacturing plan. Cypress is commissioning Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) (NYSE: TSM) to build the device, but the ultimate plan is to manufacture it in Cypress's own fabs. That meant designing a chip that suited both TSMC's 0.13-micron production line and Cypress's upcoming 90nm (0.09-micron) line.

"The internal 90nm-node specifications were coming in late, so that delayed us," Ganesan says. Fabs are expensive to run, but Cypress contends it saves money in the long run. Network search engines, in particular, can be built on the manufacturing processes developed for SRAMs -- one of the company's bread-and-butter parts. "We believe we can use our fabs as a weapon to lower costs," Ganesan says.

The Ayama 10000 is Cypress's entry in the high-end realm of 18-Mbit chips, which IDT and NetLogic Microsystems Inc. have begun shipping recently (see IDT Speeds Up Search Engine Chip and NetLogic Ships Search Engine). Competitors such as Mosaid Semiconductor and SiberCore Technologies have developed chips as well. The devices are nice for bragging rights, but admittedly, the bulk of the market remains at the 2- and 4-Mbit density. "People are just starting to look at [18-Mbit] designs at this point," Ganesan says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

materialgirl 12/4/2012 | 11:49:08 PM
re: Cypress Wants a Piece of Search Pie Interesting development, but how big is this market anyway? Any idea about units or ASPs? Is some ASIC going away due to these standard parts?
Pete Baldwin 12/4/2012 | 11:49:02 PM
re: Cypress Wants a Piece of Search Pie Interesting development, but how big is this market anyway? Any idea about units or ASPs? Is some ASIC going away due to these standard parts?

Good point: It's a relatively small market. Semico Research puts it at $78.8 million last year. That's up from around $50M the year before, so the market's been growing, at least.

ASPs are in the double digits for mainstream (2 or 4 Meg) parts, IIRC, and obviously they get higher for the biggest parts. This Ayama 10000 thing goes for $275, according to the press release.
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