The mobile network represents LSI’s next big growth engine. Talwalkar claimed LSI is on the cusp of reaping significant design wins with Axxia SoCs that have evolved from its Agere acquisition. “We expect to have 50 percent share of the merged control and data plane chips in wireless basestation in the next few years,” Talwalkar said.
Two of the four top OEMs—presumably Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks—will use Axxia in next generation products, and are engaged with LSI in business beyond those systems.
Part of LSI's strategy is to leverage its ability to sell both merchant chips and design services for the ASICs still widely used among top comms OEMs. “When they want to do down-sized products, we can help with silicon integration in ways a Texas Instruments or FPGA supplier can’t, so they get lower cost or faster time-to-market,” claimed Greg Huff, LSI’s chief technologist.
LSI has an unannounced signal processing block it is leveraging in its efforts to take business away from competitors like Texas Instruments. The blocks could be used in Axxia SoCs or ASICs for the big OEMs.
“Baseband technology has been very tightly held by network equipment providers because they view that as their secret sauce, primarily implemented on a custom chip,” said Huff. “We have some building blocks to help them go from custom to semi-custom [baseband designs] and we are shopping that around—it’s a potential long-term deal sweetener for us."
An even sweeter would be access to Intel’s 22-nm FinFET process for making comms ASICs. Reports have circulated for weeks that Cisco is getting access to Intel’s fabs to make a router or switch ASIC. Talwalkar, who spent several years at Intel’s server group before joining LSI, said he has not done any foundry business with Intel yet but left the door open.
“The industry would like to see more foundry players, and I would certainly like to see Intel successful in foundry,” he said.
The comms business is no slam dunk. TI, Freescale, Cavium and Broadcom’s NetLogic group are all heavy competitors in a sometimes tight market. “Wireless capex has been soft, but we think it will gear up over next year or two—AT&T recently said it’s LTE spending will increase, and we hope that will catalyze others to step up and spend,” Talwalkar said.
Data centers also are in penny-pinching mode. While users create 30 to 50 percent more data each year, IT budgets typically track low single-digit, macro-economic growth, creating what Talwalkar calls “the data gap.”
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LSI announced the Syncro MX Boot Appliance at its event, another way it aims to leverage its storage expertise into mega data centers.