Atheros Buys Some Global Positioning

lbsphoto.gifLocation Based Services (LBS) are going to be a big next year – you can tell that from the M&A frenzy (25 deals so far in 2007). Further more, bigger chip companies are starting to take note, and gobbling up their tiny counterparts.

Atheros, which is known for making WiFi chips just snapped up u-Nav Microelectronics for around $54 million. Atheros plans to integrate u-Nav GPS into their Radio-on-Chip for Mobile product line. Broadcom bought Global Locate earlier this year.

Safe to say, expect more LBS magic in your mobile phones next year. In-Stat, a market research firm forecasts that the number of GPS-enabled mobile devices to grow from 180 million units in 2007 to 720 million units in 2011.

And Now Google Is Making Its Own 10-Gigabit Switches

[qi:051] Google, has been known to come up with its own technologies when dissatisfied with commercial and/or open source offerings. The company had previously started making its own server hardware. And now it seems the company engineers are building high-speed switches according to its own stringent specifications. It is part of company’s efforts to ensure that its services – search, advertising and everything else – are delivered to end users with minimum delay.
Andrew Schmitt reports that company has been buying up components that are going into some sort of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch. The system is based on Broadcom’s silicon, he reports. I had heard similar story about three months ago but failed to find any confirmation. My hats off to Andrew for his scoop. This dovetails with some information I have received that the company has been making a run at router geeks and raiding Cisco’s pantry so to speak.
Here are some highlights about Google’s 10 GigBE Switch:

  • It used Broadcom 20-port 10GE switch silicon (BCM56800) & SFP+ based interconnect.
  • Google is using non-standard solutions in order to build products specific to its needs.
  • Andrew estimates that Google might be using about 5,000 ports per month

I think this development merits further investigation about Force 10 Networks, which was one of the suppliers to Google, as I had previously reported. That company has raised a mountain of cash and was supposed to go public. I have heard that they recently lost out to Myricom, another 10 GigBE vendor to supply gear to Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a 445-teraflops Blue Gene/P super computer built by IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.