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Comms chips

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

edgecore 12/4/2012 | 11:47:12 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay
I have never found the formal defintions for the 3 terms below:

Framer

Concatenation

Virtual Concatenation

Any definition would be appreciated, thanks a lot!

EC
whoshang 12/4/2012 | 11:47:10 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay
Does Intel want to keep everyone?

Ben Crosby 12/4/2012 | 11:47:09 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay In context of this article (to avoid a religious war about terminology, and specifically related to Sonet...

Sonet has a hierarchical structure, and you will be familiar with the concept e.g. that 3 STS-1 streams can be multiplexed to create an STS-3, then four STS-3s can be multiplexed into an STS-12, four of which multiplexed form an STS-48 etc.

This allows aggregation of low rate streams in provisioned data networks. To avoid dealing with this in the IP / Data world, sonet can be made to look "flat" by concatenating the payload into a single stream of data at the higher rate - e.g. a single STS-48c. This saves breaking a data stream at that rate into much lower rate streams, then multiplexing them back up to a higher rate.

You therefore end up with an STS-3c (the c denoting concatenated) which is where our well known 155Mbps arrives, an STS-12c, STS-48c and STS-192c - depending on the size of device.

A framer is responsible for putting the data stream into the correct sonet format for delivery to the optical interface. (It handles other functions too - depending upon the device such varying OA&M)

Now, having covered the first two terms... The third.

Since concatenated sonet is an exclusive function on a link - i.e. all or nothing - one cannot bandwidth manage based upon the sonet hierarchy. Every network element in a concatenated network must run in a concatenated mode when connected to the same "physical" layer.

Virtual concatenation solves the problem by creating virtual variable bandwidth "pipes" within an individual sonet stream. A single data payload gets fragmented across multiple STS-1 containers, depending upon the size of the pipe.

Virtual concatenation uses bytes in the Sonet path overhead to transmit ayload concatenation sequence information across the network to make sure that the receiver can rebuild the fragmented data.

Virtual concatenation's huge advantage is that it is defined at the path level, so an OC-48 ring with 48 STS-1 containers retains sonet hierarchy even though some or all of its bandwidth can be fragmented into virtual "pipes" operating at different rates. VC containers can be transported through existing networks transparently.

Does that make sense ?
edgecore 12/4/2012 | 11:47:08 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay Thanks Ben!

EC
Sibylle 12/4/2012 | 11:46:53 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay

So how much did Intel pay for West Bay ? What is suggested by the fact that the figure was not announced ?

Can Lightreading provide any intelligence ?
walter_100 12/4/2012 | 11:46:52 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay Does Intel want to keep everyone?

Guess INTL bought them for the team as much as for the product. The founders seem to have an extremely impressive track record. Wouldn't be surprised if they put in a bit of their own money.
verstand 12/4/2012 | 11:46:30 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay Don't know about West Bay. But, I heard Intel optical group has frozen hiring. Layoff is likely!
FR1000 12/4/2012 | 11:33:31 PM
re: Intel Buys West Bay Has anyone used the WB4500 device before?
Is it fairly bug free?
Any comments on their customer support?

Thanks,
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