Spending may be stagnant and inventories may still be chin-high, but no flies are gathering on chipmakers during the telecom slowdown.
Four companies that make chips or subsystems for telecom networks announced breakthroughs last week, claiming higher speeds and energy savings.
Broadcom announced cable headend technology that the company said provides three times the line speed of current technologies. The devices convert data and voice traffic to signals that can be carried over the cable network. Theyre key to providing the bandwidth capacity for virtual private networks, videoconferencing and other services.
Intel said its researchers have built transistors that are nearly 1,000 times faster than those on networks today. The tiny chips are just 20 nanometers wide. Intel will spend several years perfecting a process called extreme ultraviolet litho- graphy, so the new chips can be made in volume. "We still have not found a fundamental limit for making silicon transistors smaller," said Robert Chau, director of transistor research, Intel Logic Technology Development. "The pace of silicon development is accelerating, not decelerating."
IBM announced a breakthrough with a material called "strained silicon," which is expected to boost chip speed by 35 percent, and be ready for deployment in 2003. The technology takes advantage of the natural tendency for atoms inside compounds to align with one another.
And smaller Brecis Communications announced a multiservice network processor for the last mile that can combine voice and data packets with no loss in quality. Being able to provide multiple simultaneous streams of traffic, such as voice and data, is essential to companies that compete for business and residential customers at the premises.