Thursday, March 7, 2024

Marvell pushes ahead to 2nm with TSMC

Marvell announced plans to produce 2nm semiconductors optimized for accelerated infrastructure in collaboration with TSMC.

Marvell's 2nm platform will leverage the company's IP portfolio that covers the full spectrum of infrastructure requirements, including high-speed long-reach SerDes at speeds beyond 200 Gbps, processor subsystems, encryption engines, system-on-chip fabrics, chip-to-chip interconnects, and a variety of high-bandwidth physical layer interfaces for compute, memory, networking and storage architectures. The company says these technologies will serve as the foundation for producing cloud-optimized custom compute accelerators, Ethernet switches, optical and copper interconnect digital signal processors, and other devices for powering AI clusters, cloud data centers and other accelerated infrastructure.

In 2020, Marvell adopted TSMC's 5nm node for its highest performance devices. At the time, TSMC's 5nm was the industry's most advanced process node. Marvell followed the achievement with several 5nm designs and the first portfolio for infrastructure silicon on TSMC 3nm processes.

"Tomorrow's artificial intelligence workloads will require significant and substantial gains in performance, power, area, and transistor density. The 2nm platform will enable Marvell to deliver highly differentiated analog, mixed-signal, and foundational IP to build accelerated infrastructure capable of delivering on the promise of AI," said Sandeep Bharathi, chief development officer at Marvell. "Our partnership with TSMC on our 5nm, 3nm and now 2nm platforms has been instrumental in helping Marvell expand the boundaries of what can be achieved in silicon."

"TSMC is pleased to collaborate with Marvell in pioneering a platform for advancing accelerated infrastructure on our 2nm process technology," said Kevin Zhang, senior vice president of business development at TSMC. "We are looking forward to our continued collaboration with Marvell in the development of leading-edge connectivity and compute products utilizing TSMC's best-in-class process and packaging technologies."

Ciena's revenue in Q1 dips to $1.04 billion

Ciena reported revenue of $1.04 billion for its fiscal first quarter ended January 27, 2024, as compared to $1.06 billion for the fiscal first quarter 2023.

Ciena's GAAP net income for the fiscal first quarter 2024 was $49.5 million, or $0.34 per diluted common share, which compares to a GAAP net income of $76.2 million, or $0.51 per diluted common share, for the fiscal first quarter 2023.

"We delivered solid fiscal first quarter results, including strong profitability, as we continue to expand our relationships and gain share with cloud providers," said Gary Smith, president and CEO of Ciena. "While we remain very confident in the strength and durability of bandwidth demand as a long-term driver of our business, it is taking longer than expected for service providers to work through high levels of inventory."

Some highlights from Ciena's investor presentation

  • Optical Networking sales amounted to $695.8 million, accounting for 67% of sales
  • Routing and Switching sales amounted to $114 million, accounting for 11% of sales
  • Two customers represented 10%-plus of revenue combining for a total of 26.5% of revenue
  • Non-telco represented a record high 54% of total revenue
  • Direct Cloud Provider revenue was up 38%YoY
  • Subsea revenue grew nearly 49% YoY
  • EMEA revenue increased 36% YoY
  • Global Services revenue grew 13% YoY
  • Customer traction continues with WL5e 800G technology, reaching 270 customers
  • There were 86 customers for WL5n 400ZR/ZR+ pluggables, of which 19 were new this quarter
  • Three new customer orders for WaveLogic 6 Extreme
  • Surpassed 2,000 x 81xx platforms delivered to over 50 customers 
  • Cash and investments totaled $1.48 billion
  • Cash flow from operations totaled $266.1 million
  • Average days' sales outstanding (DSOs) were 88
  • Accounts receivable, net balance was $865.2 million
  • Unbilled contract asset, net balance was $151.6 million

Satellites Will Soon Transform the Mobile Industry

How will next gen satellites transform the mobile industry? Vinay Ravuri, CEO from EdgeQ, discusses:

- The satellite industry is showing a strong interest in adopting 3GPP standards, essentially 4G or 5G, for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) deployments. This shift allows for economies of scale and the use of regular off-the-shelf phones for direct communication with satellites.

- EdgeQ's software-defined physical layer can uniquely implement the frequency interface in satellites, compensating for the Doppler effect caused by the constant movement of satellites. This feature is crucial for maintaining stable communication.

- EdgeQ's low-power solution significantly reduces the power consumption of satellites, bringing it down to around 15 watts per hour per chip compared to the traditional 50 to 100 watts. This reduction in power and weight makes satellite deployment more cost-effective.

However, Vinay also highlights the challenges in this space, such as the need for radiation-hardened chips and the long revenue cycles of 5 to 10 years. Despite these challenges, the potential for high margins in this evolving industry is promising.

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CommScope to ramp up its U.S. based manufacturing

CommScope plans to expand U.S. based production of its fiber-optic connectivity products to address the projected increase in demand for Build America Buy America (BABA) compliant products manufactured and assembled in the U.S. The expansion will occur at CommScope’s existing facilities where it already produces an array of BABA compliant products.

The increased production will focus on CommScope’s fiber-optic connectivity products and solutions that target faster installation and more efficient construction of rural broadband networks. These include Fiber Optic Splice Closures (FOSC), fiber distribution cabinets and connectorized hardened and non-hardened fiber terminals will meet the BABA domestic preference. Preparations are currently being implemented and production is planned to meet industry demand as soon as Q3 of 2024.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for our partners and customers as they access federal and state funding subject to BABA domestic preference requirements. We are eager to expand the U.S. manufacturing capacity of our fiber connectivity portfolio to support our partners and customers and the efforts to bring broadband to everyone,” stated Koen ter Linde, SVP & president, Connectivity & Cable Solutions. “As a U.S. manufacturer for over half a century with a focus on broadband network solutions, we’ve long been a proponent of bridging the digital divide. Regardless of what your network architecture is or what challenges you face, CommScope has solutions to help.”

The company notes that it has already shipped over 2 million FOSC units in the U.S. over the past two years, which includes projects funded by the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) as well as other government funded initiatives to provide internet for all.

Singtel unloads more shares in Airtel

Singtel sold an 0.8% direct stake in regional associate Airtel to US-based investment firm GQG Partners for S$0.95 billion. The resultant gain from the sale is estimated to be S$0.7 billion.

Singtel has been a strategic investor in Airtel, one of the world’s top three mobile operators with over 500 million customers in 17 countries, for more than 20 years. After the transaction, Singtel will hold an effective stake of 29.0% in Airtel, worth an estimated S$33 billion. In 2022, Singtel sold a 3.3% direct stake in Airtel for approximately S$2.54 billion to illuminate the value of its holdings in Airtel.

Singtel says this transaction is the latest in its efforts to unlock value from its assets, bringing the total capital recycled to S$8 billion since its strategic reset in 2021. This has allowed the Group to fund the growth of its data centre and IT services, as well as reduce net debt by S$3.2 billion as of end September 2023. The Group has also returned S$0.8 billion in special dividends to shareholders from capital recycling, contributing to cumulative dividends of S$5.2 billion paid out to shareholders since April 2022.

NPS raises $17.5M for Software-Defined Radar

Neural Propulsion Systems (NPS), a start-up based in Pleasanton, California, raised $17.5 million in Series B funding for its software-defined radar.

The NPS Atomic Sensing Platform for automotive market is powered by the patented Atomic Norm Tensor Processing Software to achieve disruptively high resolution, precision and reliability. NPS ANTP radar SW performance is based on a new mathematical framework, the Atomic Norm, that transforms how sensor data is processed and understood.  The company says its software-defined radar, SDR, achieves near maximum likelihood performance in detection — meaning, the NPS proprietary software achieves close to what is theoretically possible with existing radar sensors. This advancement in radar technology enables clearer and earlier detection.

The round funding round was led by Cota Capital with contributions from GM Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Motors Co., and RTX Ventures, the venture capital arm of RTX.

"This investment confirms the value of our vision and technology," said Dr. Behrooz Rezvani, Founder and CEO of NPS. "By harnessing the potential of our newly developed radar technology, we can potentially achieve performance enhancements that are over 10 times greater than current radar capabilities, putting us at the forefront of revolutionizing the $28 billion radar market. Our radar software works with all radar hardware and significantly improves the performance of existing sensing platforms with lower cost and more efficiency."

Padtec announces robust 2023 earnings amid global market challenges

 Padtec Holding S.A., a leading Brazilian telecommunications equipment company, has unveiled its earnings results for the fiscal year 2023, demonstrating resilience and strategic agility in a fluctuating market. Amidst a backdrop of macroeconomic and geopolitical tensions, Padtec reported a marginal growth in total net revenues of 0.8% over the previous year, with significant strides in its Services, Software, and Platforms unit.

Despite a saturated market and a slowdown in ISP growth projects, notably influenced by post-pandemic adjustments and inflation containment measures worldwide, Padtec’s diverse business model has shown its efficacy. The Equipment/DWDM unit experienced a slight downturn in domestic sales by 6.5%, whereas international sales rose by 2.5%. In stark contrast, the Services, Software, and Platforms unit saw an impressive 38.5% revenue growth, underscoring Padtec’s strategic pivot towards recurring revenue streams and service diversification.

The company's operating cash flow, as measured by EBITDA, saw a  25.7% increase to R$56.0 million. Gross operating revenue held steady at R$455.2 million, with net revenue slightly up to R$368.7 million. There was a gross profit of R$131.3 million, the highest in Padtec's history, and a gross margin improvement to 35.6%.

In 2023, Padtec continued to innovate, integrating routers and new DWDM platforms into its product lineup and securing new contracts in its services sector. The company's international market strategy has borne fruit, as evidenced by the foreign market DWDM unit's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% from 2020 to 2023.

Administrative, commercial, and R&D expenses saw an uptick to R$104.2 million, reflecting Padtec’s R&D and market expansion. The financial results improved, with net financial losses narrowing to R$14.7 million. Furthermore, the company reported a net income of R$15.4 million, a significant 58% increase over the previous year, with a net income per share rising to R$0.19.