Broadcom Moves into Storage - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

Broadcom Moves into Storage

Broadcom is sliding into the storage sector with the acquisition of RAIDCore, a start-up that came out of stealth mode just three months ago with low-cost, high-performance RAID controllers.

The Irvine, Calif.-based chipmaker announced it is acquiring RAIDCore for its RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) (define) and virtualization software. The storage start-up provides a complete enterprise-class RAID software stack targeted at high-volume single and dual processor servers. Its Fulcrum Architecture is operating system, I/O bus, and hardware independent, and can be used with current and future server RAID solutions, whether based on Serial ATA (SATA) (define) or Serial Attached SCSI (SAS).

"Looks like Broadcom is doing storage now," comments John Webster, founder and senior analyst at Data Mobility Group, which, like RAIDCore, is based in Nashua, N.H. "We've visited the RAIDCore folks a number of times and have been impressed with the technology."

"In a way," continues Webster, "it's not surprising that this would happen, given Broadcom's business model and the fact that, in storage as in all IT technology, hardware tends to get smaller over time. A RAID controller that was once a box, becomes a board, and then a chip."

Broadcom is starting out with a Direct Attached Storage (DAS) approach (server-focused), "but they could also go in the direction of embedded RAID storage controllers in the future as disk drives get smaller and become embedded in other devices," Webster told Enterprise Storage Forum.

In the high-volume one- and two-way processor server market, motherboard designers are starting to put storage controllers running RAID software directly attached to new low-cost serial-attached drives onto the motherboard, says Broadcom spokesman Scott Harlin.

"The Broadcom server product line has included a family of such storage controllers, and when we combine those with our newly acquired RAID stack, Broadcom is now able to offer a complete storage solution to our customers in the high-volume server market," Harlin told ESF.

Harlin said the application will enable Broadcom to offer "a unique set of complete RAID solutions to our existing customers in the server and storage arenas ... The goal is to provide complete enterprise-class RAID storage solutions to the high-volume one- and two-processor server market, of which software is a piece of the solution."

"With the emergence of low-cost and high-capacity Serial ATA drives and the never-ending need for more storage in servers, we envision a near-term need to help efficiently and reliably manage the storage resources within a server," Harlin continued.

With the acquisition, Harlin says Broadcom will be able to provide a wide range of offerings to server and storage customers, including server I/O chipsets, RAID software, broadband processors, PCI-X- and PCI-Express-based SATA I and II controllers and multiplexers, Gigabit Ethernet controllers, and complete reference designs.

Initial products from the acquisition will focus on highly integrated RAID-on-chip (ROC) and RAID-on-motherboard (ROM) solutions for entry-level and mid-range server applications, as part of a plan to manage storage resources within a server through the combination of Broadcom silicon and RAIDCore software.

RAID technology allows data to be stored in a distributed manner across multiple disk drives, for redundancy and improved data transfer rates. The technology can also provide real-time data recovery, increased system uptime, and round-the-clock network availability, according to Broadcom. With local storage capacity on servers continuing to grow, "the need to effectively manage these storage resources increases, requiring customers to pursue complete RAID storage solutions," the company says.

Broadcom reports it will incur cash acquisition costs and future compensation expenses of up to $16.5 million, of which $10 million will be paid in the quarter ending March 31. The company also expects to record a one-time charge for purchased in-process research and development expenses related to the acquisition.

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