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EZchip acquires Tilera to diversify network chip portfolio

Posted: 03 Jul 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multi-core  EZchip  processor  network 

Israel-based network processor company EZchip Semiconductor is just about ready to take on an onslaught of demand for a broad range of networks and datacentre with a definitive agreement to buy multi-core CPU firm Tilera Corp.

They expected to close the deal in the third quarter, according to Eli Fruchter, CEO of EZchip.

Linley Group principal analyst Bob Wheeler told EE Times that the combined company will be "a credible new competitor to Broadcom and Cavium." Both Broadcom and Cavium have dominated designs for high-end multi-core processors. "Just how big a threat EZchip becomes, however, will largely depend on its roadmap," he added.

EZchip will pay Tilera's stockholders up to $130 million in cash, of which $50 million is payable at closing. Up to an additional $80 million is tied to future performance milestones.

During the conference call Tuesday, Fruchter noted that the combined company plans to integrate "Tilera's control and data plane standard processors known for the highest core count and lowest power dissipation" with "EZchip's accelerator that has the highest performance." He said, "This will give us a lot more differentiated products."

Fruchter, however, declined to discuss specifics on the new company's product roadmap, including what architecture the company will be using in future products.

Blurring line

The two companies' technologies are regarded as "highly complementary" by market analysts. Linley Group's Wheeler said, "EZchip has specialised in high-performance packet processing but has lacked the ease-of-programming associated with multi-core processors. Tilera is a pioneer in massive multi-core designs that run SMP Linux and support standard tools such as GCC."

The key to the deal is a changing market landscape for network processing units (NPUs) and multi-core CPUs. Although both EZchip and Tilera have developed complementary product lines and curved out separate markets, the line between the two product categories has begun to disappear.

For example, EZchip's NPUs are designed for high-end carriers and datacenter equipment in which a high-performance data-plane-only NPU is required. In contrast, Tilera's multi-core CPUs serve for a broad range of datacenter systems in which both data-plane and control-plane run on the CPU.


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