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Broadcom headquarters at UC Irvine's University Research Park
Broadcom Corporation is an American supplier of integrated circuits (ICs) for broadband communications. Henry Samueli and Henry T. Nicholas III founded Broadcom in 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The company was moved to Irvine, Californiamarker three years later. In 1998, Broadcom became a public company and now employs over 7,200 people worldwide.

Broadcom is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders. In 2008, Broadcom’s total revenue was $4.66 billion, of which, $2.44 billion from US Market, and $1.34 billion came from International Market.

Logo

The logo comprises bold black text upon a red waveform which takes a shape similar to a sinc function.

Products

Broadcom's product line spans computer and telecommunication networking: the company has products for enterprise/metropolitan high-speed networks, as well as products for SOHO (small-office, home-office) networks. Products include transceiver and processor ICs for Ethernet and wireless LANs, cable modems, digital subscriber line (DSL), servers, home networking devices (router, switches, port-concentrators) and cellular phones (GSM/GPRS/EDGE/W-CDMA). It is also known for a series of high-speed encryption co-processors, offloading this processor-intensive work to a dedicated chip, thus greatly speeding up tasks that utilize encryption. This has many practical benefits for e-commerce, and PGP or GPG secure communications.

The company also produces ICs for carrier access equipment, audio/video processors for digital set-top boxes and digital video recorders, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transceivers, and RF receivers/tuners for satellite TV. Major customers include Apple Computermarker, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, IBM, Dell, Lenovo, Linksys, Logitech, Nintendo, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, TiVo and Cisco Systems.

Broadcom also authored its own VoIP codecs in 2002, and released them as open source with LGPL license in 2009 :
  • BroadVoice 16 with declared bitrate 16 kbit/s and audio sampling frequency 8 kHz
  • BroadVoice 32 with declared bitrate 32 kbit/s and sampling rate of 16 kHz (note however that X-Lite SIP phone's menu declares bitrate 48000 b/s)


Consumer design wins

Broadcom has also garnished design wins in a number of high-profile consumer devices:
  • Broadcom supplies the video processor chip for Apple'smarker 5th generation iPod, first generation, 3G, and 3GS iPhone.
  • Broadcom supplies the WiFi+Bluetooth combo chip for Apple iPhone 3GS and iPod touch second generation.
  • In Q2 2005, Broadcom Corporation announced it would be providing Nintendo its “online solution on a chip” as deployed in millions of notebooks and PDAs across the globe, enabling Nintendo 802.11b connectivity with DS and 802.11g for the Wii. More specifically, Broadcom would provide Bluetooth connectivity for Wii's controller.123


Notable People/Employees



Competitors

  1. Intelmarker
  2. TImarker
  3. STMicroelectronics
  4. Marvell
  5. Freescale
  6. NXP
  7. Renesas
  8. Atheros
  9. Qualcommmarker


Broadcom and Linux

Some open source drivers are available and included in the Linux kernel source tree for the 802.11b/g/a/n family of wireless chips Broadcom produces. Since the release of the 2.6.26 kernel some Broadcom chips have kernel support but require external firmware to be built.

Manufacturing

Broadcom is known as a fabless company. It outsources all semiconductor manufacturing to Asian merchant foundries, such as Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturingmarker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, Silterra, TSMC, and United Microelectronics Corporation. The company is based in Irvine, Californiamarker in the University Research Park on the University of California, Irvinemarker campus, after a 2007 move from its previous campus near the Irvine Spectrum. It also has other research and development sites in Silicon Valleymarker, Bangaloremarker and Hyderabadmarker in India, Richmondmarker (near Vancouver) and Markhammarker (near Toronto) in Canada, and Sophia Antipolismarker in France.

Stock options scandal

On July 14, 2006, Broadcom announced it had to subtract $750,000,000 from earnings due to stock options irregularities. On September 8, 2006 the amount was doubled to $1.5 billion. The company may also owe additional taxes. On January 24, 2007, it announced a restatement of its financial results from 1998 to 2003 that totaled $2.24 billion.

On May 15, 2008, Samueli , Broadcom CTO, resigned as chairman of the board and took of a leave of absence as Chief Technology Officer after being named in a civil complaint by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

On June 5, 2008, Broadcom co-founder and former CEO Henry Nicholas III was indicted on charges of illegal stock-option backdating and of violations of federal narcotics laws.

Qualcomm Suit

In June 2007, the U.S. International Trade Commission blocked the import of new cell phone models based on particular Qualcommmarker microchips. They found that these Qualcommmarker microchips infringe patents owned by Broadcom. Broadcom has also initiated patent litigation in U.S. courts over this issue.

At issue is software designed to extend battery life in chips while users make out-of-network calls. In October, an ITC administrative judge made an initial ruling that Qualcomm violated the Broadcom patent covering that feature and the commission later affirmed the decision.

On April 27, 2009 the two sides reached an agreement to settle the dispute in which Qualcommmarker has agreed to pay $891 million to Broadcom over four years time.

GPL violations

In 2003, the Free Software Foundation accused Broadcom of violating the GNU General Public License. Broadcom distributed GPL code in a driver for its 802.11g router chipset without making that code public; a violation of terms of the GPL. The chipset was adopted by Linksys which was later purchased by Cisco. Cisco eventually published source code for the firmware for its WRT54G wireless broadband router.

Acquisitions

Through the years, Broadcom has acquired many smaller companies to quickly enter new markets.

Date Acquired Company Amount Expertise
January 1999 Maverick Networks $104M in Stock Multi-layer switches for corporate networks
April 1999 Epigram $316M in stock Home networking using POTS
June 1999 Amedia Labs $20M SOC design services
August 1999 HotHaus Technologies $280M in stock DSP software for VOIP
August 1999 Altocom $180M in stock Software modem software
January 2000 BlueSteel Networks $123M in stock Security processors
March 2000 Digital Furnace Corp $136M in stock Data compression software
March 2000 Stellar Semiconductor $162M in stock 3D graphics processors
June 2000 Pivotal Technologies $242M in stock Digital video chips
July 2000 Innovent Systems $500M in stock Bluetooth radios
August 2000 Puyallup Integrated Circuit Company IC design and IC macro blocks
July 2000 Altima Communications $533M in stock Networking chips
October 2000 Newport Communications $1240M in stock 10Gbit Ethernet transceivers
October 2000 Silicon Spice $1000M in stock DSP chips for VOIP
November 2000 Element 14 $594M in stock DSL chipsets
December 2000 Allayer Communications $271M in stock Enterprise and optical networking chips
December 2000 Sibyte $2000M in stock Broadband microprocessors
January 2001 VisionTech, Ltd. $777M in stock MPEG-2 compression/decompression of PVRs
January 2001 ServerWorks Corp. $1003M in stock I/O controllers for servers and workstations
July 2001 PortaTec Corporation Mobile devices
July 2001 Kimalink Wireless and mobile ICs
May 2002 Mobilink Telecom, Inc. 5.6M shares of stock Baseband processors for cellphones
March 2003 Gadzoox Networks $5.8M in cash Storage-area networks
January 2004 RAIDCore, Inc. $16.5M in cash RAID software
April 2004 M-Stream Inc. $8.7M in cash and 27000 shares of stock Technology to improve wireless reception
April 2004 Sand Video, Inc. $77.5M in stock and $7.4M in cash Video compression technology
April 2004 WIDCOMM, Inc. $49M in cash Software for Bluetooth systems
April 2004 Zyray Wireless, Inc. $96M in stock Baseband processors for WCMDA
September 2004 Alphamosaic, Ltd. $123M in stock Video processors for mobile devices
February 2005 Alliant Networks, Inc. Cellular gateway products
March 2005 Zeevo, Inc. $26.4M in cash and $2.6M in stock Bluetooth headset products
July 2005 Siliquent Technologies, Inc. $76M in cash 10Gbit Ethernet interface controllers
October 2005 Athena Semiconductors, Inc. $21.6M in cash Digital TV tuners and Wifi technology
January 2006 Sandburst Corporation $75M in cash and $5M in stock SOC chips for Ethernet packet switching
November 2006 LVL7 Systems, Inc. $62M in cash Networking software
May 2007 Octalica, Inc. $31M in cash Multimedia Over Coax technology
June 2007 Global Locate, Inc. $146M in cash GPS chips and software
March 2008 Sunext Design, Inc. $48M in cash Optical disk drive technologies
August 2008 AMDmarker (DTV Processor Division) $141.5M in cash (Original deal was $192.8M) DTV processor chips, software and TV tuners
December 2009 Dune Networks $178M High speed network switches


References

  1. Broadcom Revenue Sources, Wikinvest. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  2. b43 - Linux Wireless
  3. A list of acquisitions
  4. Broadcom Completes Acquisition of Digital TV Business from AMD for $50M less
  5. Broadcom to buy Dune Networks for cloud switches


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