Broadcom makes more moves toward integration, adding security functions to its Ethernet switch chips

June 16, 2003

2 Min Read
Broadcom Blends Ethernet, Security

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) is making good on promises to start integrating security into other chips, introducing parts that combine small Ethernet switches with a microprocessor and hardware-based IPSec.

The strategy developed in the wake of cuts last year, which reportedly claimed a good chunk of acquired startup BlueSteel Networks Inc. (see Axe Falls at Broadcom). Broadcom is continuing to support the standalone security processors that BlueSteel developed, and officials insist they're not planning to exit that market.

Rather, Broadcom wants to start putting security into its other products (see Chipmakers Flock to Security). It seems a natural fit, given that security is becoming ubiquitous in many of the Ethernet products Broadcom targets.

It's also a natural progression for chip companies to mash more stuff onto each device, a direction also being pursued by rivals Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL), as well as communications-chip specialists such as Brecis Communications Corp..

Broadcom claims to have a piece that each of the others is missing -- the physical-layer Ethernet parts, in the cases of Brecis and Intel (although Intel's PHY may be ready at last -- see Intel's Ga-Ga for GigE).

Marvell is working along similar lines, however, with its Link Street line of SOHO Ethernet switches. The 88E6318, announced in February, also includes a microprocessor, Ethernet switch, and IPSec processor. "Based on my understanding from the press release, this is very similar to the product we announced four months ago," says Russell Yin, senior product marketing manager for Marvell.

Still, Broadcom thinks the security aspect puts it ahead of much of the competition. "Deploying hardware accelerated security is a very expensive proposition," says Rahul Patel, Broadcom product line manager.

Broadcom is using the name Sentry5 to designate chips that have hardware-based IPSec built in. The first four of those devices were announced today: two for home networks, and the BCM5830 and BCM5834 for small offices. The latter two are based on two- and five-port Fast Ethernet switches, respectively; a forthcoming line tentatively named Sentry5XP would add two Gigabit Ethernet links as well. The Sentry5 parts are sampling now, with volume shipments expected in the third quarter of 2003.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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