SAN FRANCISCO—Solarflare Communications Inc., a provider of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) server adapters and software, said Monday (May 9) it exited the physical layer (PHY) business through the sale of the company's 10GBase-T assets.
Solarflare (Irvine, Calif.) did not identify the buyer or disclose the purchase price for the company's 10GBase-T assets. Solarflare called the buyer a"an unnamed merchant semiconductor company" and said the details of the transaction could not be disclosed.
A spokesperon for Marvell declined to comment on the report.
The 10GBase-T standard, or IEEE 802.3an-2006, was released in 2006 to provide 10-gigabit-per-second connections over unshielded or shielded twisted pair cables, over distances up to 100 meters.
Solarflare said Monday that it launched a family of 10GbE SFP+ and 10GBase-T server adapters and a portfolio of OpenOnload and EnterpriseOnload application acceleration middleware in 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.
"Our deal to sell the 10GBase-T business is good for our current installed base of 10GBase-T customers who will now benefit from having continued support for the best 10GBase-T product on the market," said Russell Stern, Solarflare CE, in a statment. "We have now reached critical mass. Solarflare will continue to build on its success in the 10GbE server adapter market by growing share in high frequency trading and HPC segments, and launching solutions targeting the virtualization and big data segments. We're excited by what the rest of 2011 will bring to the company."
Marvell had been expected to enter the 10GBase-T market, where PLX Technologies Inc. and Broadcom Corp. are the early leaders. The chip market for 10 Gbit/second Ethernet over copper cables will only amount to a little more than $350 million in 2014, but will take off rapidly after that as 10GBase-T takes off, according to a January report from market research firm LightCounting.
Also Monday, Aquantia Corp., a provider of 10GBase-T connectivity chips, announced it is sampling a quad-port 10GBase-T PHY IC in a 25-mm x 25-mm package. Acquantia (Milpitas, Calif.) said the device, AQ1402, is the smallest quad-port 10GBase-T PHY available in the industry and the only device that allows a single-row implementation for mainstream 1RU 48-port 10Gigabit Ethernet switches.
This looks to be fire sale of SolarFlare's 10GBase-T PHY. As regards to 10GbE SFP+, it seems like SolfarFlare is already late to the game. Others like Broadcom, Cortina, AMCC, etc., are already well entrenched.
The 10GBase-T PHY opportunities will remain largely at the switches, servers, repeaters and such but not at the desktop / laptop for a foreseeable future. Power consumption improvements & cost reductions will eventually may make it feasible for client nodes but that is still about 3 to 5 years away IMHO. The power consumption of SFP+ PHY's are about 1/3rd of base-T PHYs at 10G but their form factor will preclude applications in desktops and laptops. So CNA's based on SFP will be confined to servers for a while and that is the market already well-captured by likes of Broadcom, Cortina, AMCC!
10G Base T market will grow much more in the future as the technology will always costs lesser than fiber optic based networks. Marvel has been a leader in Ethernet chips since log time and this acquisition will certainly help them a lot.
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