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Xilinx buys Modesat for backhaul expertise

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:57pm
Brian Santo

Xilinx is wading deeper into the communications equipment market with the acquisition of Modesat Communications, which specializes in silicon for wireless backhaul applications. The two did not reveal a purchase price.

Modesat, based in Estonia but with operations in Sunnyvale, Calif., designs FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits). The company has products for the TDM, SDH/SONET and Ethernet markets.

With the acquisition, Xilinx picks up a business aimed at OEMs that develop mobile backhaul platforms (cellular, including LTE, and WiMAX). The business complements Xilinx’s All Programmable 7 series FPGAs and Zynq-7000 SoCs (systems-on-a-chip).

With the combination, Xilinx said, customers can retain their proprietary IP while leveraging the backhaul solutions and the flexibility of Xilinx FPGAs and SoC devices.

Krishna Rangasayee, senior vice president and general manager of the Xilinx Communications Business Unit, said, “This is another affirmation of our commitment to the wireless markets and to offer our customers the best combination of silicon, solutions IP and design services to assist them in differentiating and succeeding in their markets.”

Worldwide LTE network deployments are straining the existing backhaul network infrastructure, resulting in significant carrier capex spending on upgrading wireless backhaul. OEMs are diversifying their wireless mobile backhaul portfolios to add new features and technology capabilities that address ever-changing market needs. There is increasing interest in e-Band and NLOS backhaul technologies, beyond traditional microwave backhaul. The market dynamics in these markets are resulting in new challenges and opportunities for OEMs.

“The main characteristics of the mobile backhaul equipment market have changed little in the last year, with certainly IP/Ethernet being the primary driver. Mobile operators and backhaul transport providers are investing heavily in IP, which in turn is helping push the equipment market in total,” stated Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research. “The move to IP as the basic technology of LTE (and WiMAX) is growing no matter how it is measured. Microwave backhaul is a very attractive market, and microwave is the dominant backhaul solution, already at $4 billion in 2012, growing to over $5 billion in 2016.”

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