MANHASSET, N.Y. Broadcom Corp. is accelarating the move to 65-nm process technology as it sharpens its focus on the cellphone market and beyond.
"Basically, my strategy is an extension of what Broadcom has always done well " focus on rapidly growing markets, build a broad IP portfolio on a common [process technology] platform and execute them well," Scott McGregor, Broadcom's president and CEO, said in an interview with EE Times.
After moving to Broadcom three years ago from Philips Semiconductors (now NXP), McGregor said he has led Broadcom in two new directions: accelerating the transformation to a 65-nm process technology and entering into the cellphone market.
The fabless chip company recently unveiled the industry's first 65-nm chips, including a single-chip Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) controller along with single-chip Edge and 3G phone products. While some independent device manufacturers cling to what McGregor calls "IDM fantasies," Broadcom has already proven them wrong. "IDMs tend to believe that they can gain better margins, both from using their own fab and their own chips. They also think that their fab insures they'll become the first to market chips based on the newest process technology," he said. Neither holds true, according to Broadcom.
A bigger question this year is how much momentum Broadcom can generate in the cut-throat cellphone chip market traditionally dominated by Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Freescale. By its own estimate, Broadcom holds only a 1 to 2 percent market share in the cellphone baseband chip market.
Some industry analysts are optimistic. "This year, I expect a sharp pickup in their [Broadcom's] market share, with second-source Edge basebands at Nokia and UMTS and [High-Speed Uplink Packet Access] basebands [to] Samsung," said Will Strauss, president of market researcher Forward Concepts (Tempe, Ariz.).
Not everyone agrees. ''It seems as if Broadcom's 65-nm single-chip Edge design wins with Nokia will likely push out of 2008 and into 2009. Previously, we expected that business to ramp slightly in" the second half of 2008, said Craig Berger, an analyst with Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co. Inc..
Nokia recently opened up its handsets baseband design sockets, traditionally dominated by Texas Instruments. The Finnish company disclosed last year that it's using several suppliers, including Broadcom, Infineon, STMicroelectronics and TI.
"Broadcom's revenues for cellular handset chips will likely trend near similar levels for most of 2008,'' Berger said in a report. ''Furthermore, we begin to wonder how material this design win is at Nokia.''
Nonetheless, Broadcom has been working the cellphone chip market on several fronts beyond baseband. The company has already established a strong presence in the handset market with its Bluetooth, FM and Wi-Fi chips.