Broadcom Snares Storage Patents for $18M

Broadcom continued its push into storage this week, acquiring $18 million worth of patents from Cirrus Logic, a maker of analog, digital signal processing (DSP), and mixed-signal chipsets for consumer electronics.

Broadcom, an Irvine, Calif.-based communications chipmaker, grabbed U.S. and foreign patents and patent applications concerning such magnetic and optical storage areas as read channel and hard disk controllers that help transmit digital content.

Cirrus Logic owns patents that cover technologies such as chip cores for integration into a variety of mass storage products for the audio and video hard disk drive market.

The Austin, Texas-based company’s system-on-a-chip (SOC) products are geared for audio/video drives used in digital set-top boxes, digital video recorders, and digital televisions, all products driving the consumer electronics market. The chips go in hard drives, where they have the capacity to store thousands of songs and photos for handheld digital music players and cameras, or record movies for mobile video devices.

“As a worldwide leader in broadband communications ICs , Broadcom has invested heavily in developing an extensive intellectual property portfolio to protect our products,” said Broadcom President and CEO Alan “Lanny” Ross in a statement. “We remain focused on continuing to expand the size and breadth of our patent portfolio, both organically and through acquisition.”

Broadcom reports its patent portfolio currently consists of nearly 500 U.S. patents and over 2200 pending U.S. patent applications plus foreign patents and applications.

While Broadcom has a high degree of fluency with chips, including those for broadband communications, networking, and storage, the company has tightened its focus somewhat of late.

Earlier this month the chipmaker moved to acquire start-up RAIDCore, a maker of high-performance RAID controllers to help pipe data and virtualization software. RAID technology allows data to be stored in a distributed manner across multiple disk drives, for redundancy and improved data transfer rates.

When the agreement was announced February 2, Broadcom spokesman Scott Harlin told Enterprise Storage Forum the company made the play to lure server vendors because developers are starting to put onto the motherboard storage controllers running RAID software directly attached to new serial-attached drives.

“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 told ESF.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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