Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Conexant/CopperGate connection

No big surprise that Conexant sold off its powerline networking group today. Linking the dots on its future, it's not a big shocker HomePNA specialist CopperGate Communications was the buyer.

The Multimedia over Coax spec is Conexant's current direction in home nets these days. A Conexant exec told me at the MoCA conference last fall that Conexant plans to ship discrete MoCA RF and baseband chips in the second half of 2008, then follow them up with chips that integrate MoCA support as a block on its silicon for DSL, MPEG and passive optical network chips for set-tops, routers and optical network terminals.

Conexant and Broadcom both joined the MoCA board recently, telegraphing plans for MoCA silicon. Conexant had already given up on earlier plans to make HomePlug AV chips, believing the technology will have difficulty keeping pace with the bandwidth needs of digital media.

For its part, CopperGate is very bullish on the ITU's G.hn standard as part of its road to the future. CopperGate just announced it has delivered five million chips for HomePNA over phone and coax lines to date. It bought Connexant's powerline group so it could add to its mix that technology which European carriers demand.

Looking to the future, CopperGate foresees the day when a completed G.hn could allow it to deliver a chip that handles all three wired media in a standard way. The company also plans to offer chips that support G.hn as well as the version 4.0 of HomePNA now in progress. One chip, all home net markets--that's the Holy Grail.

I wonder why Conexant didn't see that broader win, hang on to its power line group and prepare for the same single-chip future.

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