Blessay: Comparing Merchant and Custom Silicon

Merchant Silicon is an marketing term used to describe the use of “off the shelf” chip components to create a networking product and commonly used by company that design their own silicon chips when explaining that their process is better and more efficient.

The networking industry has two types of silicon: ìcustom or in houseî or ìmerchant or off the shelfî. The ‘in house silicon’ argument goes something like this :

We have our specialist engineers who can custom design an ASIC and supporting chips that are completely focussed on the features needed to deliver Product X. As a result, our designs are purposefully built to be faster, better etc. Our prices are more expensive because our products are faster and more focussed and because our costs are higher.

The ‘merchant silicon’ argument goes something like this:

The levels of expertise required to design and build a silicon chip is very high. It requires specific skills, tools, and high levels of expertise. If your core business is producing a networking device, then having your own silicon development is not core business. By relying on companies who specialise in silicon design and manufacture, we can focus on software and integration to deliver new and better features at a cheaper price.


Backplane Ethernet – the GBaseK Standard

A lesser known standard is Backplane Ethernet. I wasn’t aware of it until I was researching Notes on Cables and Connectors for 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet. I spent some time over the weekend scratching an itch to have a look at it and why it exists.These are scrach notes, and observations from a research session and not intended to a canonical investigation. Interesting though because it’s is valuable to understand that many network products are functionally all the same – only the software and the people are different.

IBM buys Blade Networks – Cisco keeps its buddy ?

IBM buys Blade Networks IBM has “run for the stack” as customers ask for end to end guarantees for servers and networking in the data center. With Cisco and HP playing the FUD card and telling customers that only a single vendor solution can guarantee the next generation of blade servers and networks, IBM has […]

So You Want to be a Network Consultant

Having spent over twenty years in I.T. and over seventeen years in networking, Iíve worked with a lot of Network Engineers. Career progression has always been a hot topic. Iíve always been interested in learning how people have found themselves in the job they now do. Here are ten tips from a Technical Services Director (or Vice President) on how to work for a Reseller.

Market positioning Acadia, EMC, Cisco and the whole vBlock Idea

So a while back, Cisco, VMWare and EMC announced that they are forming a partnership to co-operatively sell and support products in a joint venture named Acadia. Selected engineers and sales grunts, USD$200 million bucks and “no large customer left untouched” door to door marketing campaign. Is there anything to it ?

Review of the Cisco CRS-3 Marketing Debacle

The Cisco Marketing team kicked sand in the their own face with a failure to comprehend what customers want, and expecting them to comprehend what a BFR is for. The claim that “Internet will never be the same again” got a massive cold shoulder when they announced another big router.