IBM sells network chip assets

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IBM sells network chip assets

IBM has sold parts of its Picoprocessor PowerNP product line to Hifn, a maker of security processors, for about $15m in cash.

Other IBM intellectual property associated with the PowerNP line, a family of standard network chips, will be licensed to Hifn under the agreement.

IBM will continue to manufacture the chips as part of its foundry business. Hifn plans to use the licensed technology in its next generation of security service processors. The processors perform security functions such as data encryption in other suppliers' network gear.

Combining the PowerNP chips with Hifn's existing technology could allow greater integration of security functions such as firewall, virus scanning and virtual private networks, leading to security appliances that are affordable and easy to use for small and medium-sized businesses, said Bob Wheeler, an analyst at The Linley Group.

The deal is IBM's latest move out of the market for standard, or programmable, network processors.

Last year the company stopped new product development for the PowerNP line and sold its PowerPRS switch fabric line to Advanced Micro Circuits.

IBM continues to sell its PowerPC processors and ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) for network gear.

Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service


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