The Power of Fear


Entropic is licking its wounds after announcing a 10% workforce reduction and restructuring plan on Tuesday while also telling Wall Street to expect the chipmaker's second quarter revenues to come in on the low end of guidance. The stock isn’t getting hammered too hard as a result – shares were down 4.17% by Wednesday afternoon.

It’s been a rough go for Entropic as it essentially morphs from a MoCA-focused chipmaker into a more diversified company that hopes to tangle with larger rival, Broadcom, in the market for set-top and gateway silicon. Entropic got there through a recent string of acquisitions, highlighted by its $65 million purchase of Trident Semiconductor, so some growing pains should be expected.

And brighter days could be ahead for Entropic and other suppliers because some of the top U.S. MSOs are apparently a bit leery of Broadcom’s power and are increasingly eager to spread the wealth around, as they have been pleased with the performance of new chips coming out of Entropic and STMicroelectronics.

According to an industry source who knows which way the winds are blowing in this part of the arena, the fear about Broadcom’s grip on the market is causing some top operators to make a concerted effort to diversify the chipset ecosystem, offering a potential whiff of good news for those that are trying to elbow their way in.

One angle of opportunity is coming way of the Reference Design Kit (RDK), a project started by Comcast that aims to accelerate the product development cycle of IP-capable set-tops and gateways.

Entropic, for example, is powering a Humax’s version of the Xi3, an all-IP client device that will support Comcast’s coming “X2” interface and cloud DVR product. Pace, meanwhile, is making a version of the Xi3 that uses Broadcom.

But there’s likely room for at least one more chipmaker. At The Cable Show last month, Alticast showed off versions of its RDK stack running on chips from Entropic, Broadcom and STMicro.