Broadcom Corp.s 2005 to-do list includes integrating security features into its enterprise products, backing AMDs microprocessors and boosting its presence in handsets, executives said Thursday.
The communications giant held its semiannual analyst meeting at its Irvine, Calif., headquarters, touting its 2004 success as well as its plans to expand its business during 2004. Executives said the companys watchword would be “convergence,” a word that describes the intersection of voice, data, video and communications as well as the resources that Broadcom will share among its 11 lines of business.
In some sense, Broadcom is to communications what Intel Corp. is to the PC. Broadcom utterly dominates the Ethernet space, and is trying to extend that leadership into storage and other enterprise markets.
But the company faces a much more competitive wireless market, and it has essentially ceded the enterprise chip-set market to Intel for now, choosing to develop platforms for AMDs Opteron processor.
One key communications technology that Broadcom apparently will forgo is WiMax, the high-profile broadband wireless standard that Intel and its partners are developing.
Instead, the company will support HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), a cellular standard being promoted by handset maker Nokia, among others.
HSDPA proponents say the technology is the next step in the evolution of wideband CDMA technology, offering downstream data rates up to 10-Mbits/s. Lanny Ross, Broadcoms president and chief executive officer, said a two-chip converged WCDMA/HSDPA solution is due in 2006, about the same time that the mobile version of WiMax, 802.16e, is expected.
Ross, who will yield his position to Philips Semiconductor chief Scott McGregor after Jan. 1, said the company is well-positioned. “Scott is absolutely the right person with the right combination of managerial experience at the right time” to take over a “very healthy” company, Ross said. “No aspect of this company is broken, dented or weak,” he said.
Broadcom reported net income of $49.0 million on revenue of $646.5 million for the third quarter ended Oct. 21.
Enhancing Enterprise Products
Broadcom plans to enhance its enterprise products with enhanced security beginning next year, said Tom Lagatta, head of Broadcoms Enterprise Computing Group. The company plans to combine Trusted Platform Modules, the security chip at the heart of the industrywide “trusted computing” initiative, with Broadoms PCI Express-based Gigabit Ethernet switches, he said. Over time, all of Broadcoms NIC chips also will gain ROC (RAID-on-chip) functionality, he said.
The company also has 10-Gigabit-Ethernet-over-copper projects under way, Lagatta said.
In addition, Broadcom intends to boost the use of iSCSI, an IP-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities.
iSCSI initiator cards using Broadcom chips should begin shipping in the first quarter of 2005, Lagatta said; by 2006, the technology will be integrated on Broadcoms NIC chips. The company recently began shipping a hybrid Layer-2 Ethernet controller, 4-layer TCP/IP and iSCSI initiator, all integrated on the same chip.
Broadcoms switch chips, meanwhile, also will gain packet-sniffing capabilities designed to block the spread of Internet worms, said Ford Tamer, vice president of Broadcoms Networking Infrastructure Group. “What many dont realize is if you can somehow get inside a corporations hardened perimeter, security inside can be very soft,” he said.
IP phone OEMs also have begun to demand integrated security solutions, to prevent outsiders from snooping on corporate VOIP (voice over IP) calls, Tamer said. Security will need to be applied to both wired and wireless VOIP phones. Broadcom also intends to integrate the wired and wireless gateway into a single box, eliminating the additional management headaches an additional box requires, Tamer added.
Those wireless products eventually will include Broadcoms first next-generation 802.11n chips in 2006, said Robert Rango, vice president of Broadcoms Mobile & Wireless Group. In the consumer space, Broadcom plans to push its AlphaMosaic mobile graphics silicon into 3-G (third-generation) cell phones and other devices, Rango said.
Although Broadcoms ServerWorks chip-set business originally was one of the companys strengths, the company played on a series of missteps by Intels own chip-set group to win business. After Intel solved the problems and began shipping its own chip sets supporting multiple processors, Broadcoms division lost business.
In August 2003, Broadcom said it would develop chip sets for the AMD 64-bit Opteron platform. The company has completed so-called “A0” silicon and expects first revenue shipments to begin in either March or April, Lagatta said.