Comms chips

Redux Revisits RAD

The founders of Redux Communications Ltd. didn't intend to compete directly with alma mater RAD Data Communications Ltd., but it looks like the two will be pitted against each other starting next year.

Both companies are producing chips to handle TDM over IP (TDMoIP), also called circuit emulation. The idea is to map legacy traffic, such as T1 lines, onto newfangled IP networks.

That RAD and Redux are both moving into this chip market is pure coincidence, according to Redux's founders. "We came at it from completely different directions," says Daniel Bar-Lev, Redux's vice president of marketing.

Bar-Lev and three chip experts left RAD in 1999 when the company shut down an ASIC division. Of course, in such pre-bubble heydays, engineering talent was in high demand -- a top-notch team was expensive and difficult to keep.

"At the time, it was tough to attract good engineers. It was too hard to compete with the startups with glamorous names," Bar-Lev says. "It would have involved some significant investment of resources by RAD, and it was just decided at the time they were going to concentrate on the systems side. So, they closed the department down, and we left."

The Redux founders had set out to make parts akin to network processors, which they've done in products such as their RS-100. Early this year, as it became clear that circuit emulation was a growing application for these parts, Redux used the RS-100 technology to develop a specialty TDMoIP chip, the RS-160.

RAD, meanwhile, is already shipping a TDMoIP gateway called the IPmux, competing with the likes of Axerra Networks Inc. (see Axerra Aims for Missing Link, RAD Hits TDMoIP Milestone, and -- you guessed it -- RAD, Axerra Interoperate and Axerra, Redux Interoperate).

RAD started developing TDMoIP in 1999, at the request of Swedish carrier Telia -- now part of TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN). RAD even started the TDM Over IP Forum that year, which has since been replaced by efforts such as the IETF's Pseudo Wire Emulation Edge to Edge (PWE3) working group.

Telia never ended up using RAD's technology -- see Telia, Axerra Complete Trials -- but RAD managed to sell it to Utfors AB, which was later acquired by Telenor ASA (Nasdaq: TELN).

The IPmux involves some specialty hardware and some software that runs on ordinary microprocessors. RAD is condensing that technology into an ASIC, which should help the company cut costs on the IPmux.

That's where RAD starts crossing paths with Redux. RAD will get back into the chip game by selling the ASIC to other vendors, with sampling expected to start by the end of the year, according to Tal Gilad, senior product marketing manager.

Redux claims to have the jump on RAD, however. The startup has shipped to four beta customers with six more pending, Bar-Lev says.

Like RAD, chipmaker Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. (NYSE/Toronto: ZL) expects to produce a TDMoIP part later this year. And Lycium Networks Ltd., another Israel-based startup, planned to sample its circuit emulation chips by this quarter (see Zarlink Branches Out and Lycium: It's All in the Timing).

Circuit emulation tends to focus on legacy network traffic, but RAD sees opportunity in the cellular area too, "offering mobile carriers capacity on these [packet-based] backhaul networks, lowering opex for the carrier," says Gilad.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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