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Motorola buys network processor pioneer

C-Port acquired for $430m

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Motorola is to buy network chip developer C-Port in a stock swap that values the acquisition at $430 million. Founded in 1997, C-Port's work has centred on the development of programmable processors designed to replace ASICs in high-end networking hardware: high-speed switches and routers, that kind of thing. The advantage of a directly programmable chip over a hard-wired ASIC is clear: it takes less time to develop applications in the first place, and upgrades can be installed far more quickly, because no one has fab a whole new chip. C-Port's key offering is the C-5 "digital communications processor". Motorola reckons chips like the C-5 are going to be big business. It believes ISPs and ASPs demand equipment that can be more quickly updated to support new Internet-based services, forcing the equipment makers to turn to the likes of Motorola to provide them with programmable network and comms processors. Market researcher Dataquest agrees -- at least about the demand part. It claims the market will be worth $1 billion by 2003. Maybe, but Motorola is going to have to work at it. C-Port isn't the only company working in the field. Chip giants Intel and IBM are both at work on chips of their own, and smaller operations like Cradle and even Sun, with its MAJC (Microarchitecture for Java Computing) chip have their eye on that billion dollars. Once the acquisiton is completed -- shareholders and regulators have to give the deal their blessing first -- C-Port will operate out of its existing HQ as a subsdiary of Motorola's Networking and Computing Systems Group, part of its Semiconductor Products Sector. ®

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