Annapurna drives Amazon to the chip market

14 January, 2016

This week, Amazon's private startup, Annapurna Labs, has announced the availability of its Alpine communication chips to OEM and service providers

This week, Amazon’s private startup, Annapurna Labs, has announced the availability of its Alpine platform communication chips to OEM and service providers

Annapurna Labs Alpine chip. Source:
Annapurna Labs Alpine chip. Source:

Many observers in the industry wondered why Amazon bought the Israeli statrup Annapurna in January 2015 (for $570 million). What Amazon got to do with a fabless semiconductor company focused on communication chips? It was assumed that the new member of Amazon, called now Annapurna Labs, will develops dedicated solutions for Amazon’s own data center and cloud facilities.

But now it seems Amazon took a different route: this week Annapurna Labs has announced the availability of its Alpine platform-on-chip and subsystems product line that enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers to deliver digital services for home gateways, Wi-Fi routers, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.

NETGEAR's new NAS solution
NETGEAR’s new NAS solution

Enterprise-grade home

This new platforms consists of  a portfolio of chips using 32-bit ARMv7 or 64-bit ARMv8 architectures and a rich set of peripherals. It provides up to four cores of high performance general–purpose compute.

The platform adds interfaces such as advanced storage interfaces, PCIe Gen3, and multimode Ethernet connectivity of up to 10G and features like DDR4 and 2MB of L2 cache.

All this to address the needs of the connected home including storage management, multimedia, IoT management, and cloud connectivity. Annapurna made it clear that this new offer will be sold outside Amazon: “Several Alpine-based products are already available, and today Annapurna is making Alpine available to other OEMs and service providers.”

Impressions of the first costumers

ASUS, for example, is an early adopter of Alpine platform. “There is significant growth in the home Wi-Fi segment with most of the demand occurring on high-performance routers,” said Tenlong Deng, Vice President of ASUS Networking & Wireless Devices Business Unit. “We are collaborating with Annapurna and believe that they have one of the most advanced and flexible silicon solutions in the marketplace.”

NETGEAR, also, is selling a new NAS solution (on Amazon website) based on the Alpine. “In the home network, consumers are asking for more services like media processing, HD video streaming, better security, and tighter integration of cloud services,” said Richard Jonker, General Manager & Vice President at NETGEAR. “Our recently announced ReadyNAS 214 is based on Annapurna’s Alpine. Using the Alpine quad core chip, we are able to run services at very high performance. We like the Annapurna architecture and plan to collaborate with Annapurna on future projects.”

Meiji Chang, General Manager of QNAP Systems reveled that the new dual-core 2-bay TS-231+ and 4-bay TS-431+, and the 5-bay quad-core TS-531P NAS products are based on Annapurna Labs chips. “We are working closely with Annapurna Labs to further strengthen our product portfolio in 2016.”

Annapurna maintains Alpine support in the Linux and FreeBSD open source projects. These standard open source operating systems allow third parties to easily run their applications and drivers on the Alpine platform and quickly qualify updated software on Alpine-based products. Multiple third party applications for the home segment run on the Alpine platform, including video streaming, security, and cloud connectivity. Drivers for components used in home devices have been ported and tested to run on Alpine including drivers for Wi-Fi chips, multimode Ethernet PHYs, and Ethernet switches.

The bottom line: Amazon has created a new semiconductor brand that bring her down for a meeting with one of the most super-competitive markets in the world. What will be the next step?

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Posted in: News , Semiconductors