Two years after taking its custom-chip technology to the merchant market, Alcatel's Microelectronics Division is finding out that system-on-a-chip for the masses requires a new approach to ASIC design.
According to industry sources here at DesignCon 2000, the chip unit of Belgian telecommunications giant Alcatel will soon unveil a platform-based SOC program, featuring five market-specific platforms that can be quickly tailored to the customer's application. Alcatel Micro has thus far focused its custom-ASIC designs on high-volume automotive and ADSL applications.
While the company would not confirm that a change in strategy is afoot, it is in the process of building a portfolio of 25 to 30 owned and third-party IP cores, and assembling the tools and methodology to tie them all together in an ASSP or ASIC implementation, noted Bernard Goffart, technical marketing manager for the Microelectronics operation in Richardson, Texas.
The division re mains committed to becoming the leading supplier of SOCs for the access network, Goffart said. As of last year, Alcatel Micro was well positioned to do just that. In 1999, the company shipped 2.6 million ADSL chipsets, laying claim to approximately 50% of the market.
With just under 65% of its sales captive within Alcatel, the chip division is still far short of the 50% goal it set for itself two years ago. However, merchant-market sales have grown 42% in that time to $100 million, Goffart said. Alcatel Micro is now aiming for the $1 billion mark by 2004, he said.