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Fabless semi vendor to acquire ARM expertise

Jul 17, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Cavium announced it will acquire Star Semiconductor, a Taiwan-based designer of ARM-based system-on-chips (SoCs), for $9 million. Star should provide an entry into the consumer broadband market and ARM processors for Cavium, which currently sells Linux-friendly, multi-core, MIPS64-based networking processors.

Cavium reports having signed a definitive agreement to acquire “certain assets and business of Star Semiconductor Corporation” for $9 million in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter, after which Cavium plans to continue to sell Star's existing product lines, in addition to its own Octeon family of networking chips. The Octeon parts range up to the 16-core CN58xx Octeon Plus to lower-end parts targeting broadband gateway applications. The Star acquisition will extend Cavium's downward reach with “triple-play enabled devices for the digitally connected home and office,” says Cavium.

Star's Orion STR9100/9200 SoC
(Click to enlarge)

Based in Hsinchu, Taiwan, the fabless Star sells its Orion and Equuleus SoCs for broadband devices operating in the home and SOHO markets. The Orion (pictured above) is based on an ARM922 I16/D16 core clocked at 250MHz. It offers a GbE-enabled SOHO router, with a “Layer-7 content-inspection enabled” GbE security gateway, as well as an 802.11n WiFi GbE router. The Equuleus SoC is equipped with an ARM922 I8/D8 core (also 250MHz). The SoC is designed for consumer networking applications, including P2P file-sharing, VoIP, IP video, home control, and Internet radio. Operating system (OS) compatibility for the processors was not detailed.

Cavium offers over 30 models of its Octeon and Octeon Plus processors, which are primarily targeted at carrier-grade networking applications. The company announced Octeon in 2005, starting with the four- to 16-core Octeon CN38xx line. It started shipping high-end Octeon Plus processors in early 2007, following up with the mid-range CN52xx this February.

Octeon and Octeon Plus are both supported with Cavium's software development kit (SDK), which is based on SMP Linux 2.6 distributions from MontaVista or Wind River. The SDK includes the GNU Toolchain, debugger tools, co-processor acceleration APIs, and reference software.

Stated Steven Huang, Chairman and CEO of Star Semiconductor, “Future products will combine Cavium and Star's IP to build highly-differentiated, low-power solutions for Cavium's target markets.”

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