Cavium is a NASDAQ publicly listed company based in San Jose, California with design team locations in California, Massachusetts, India, Taiwan and China. With reported revenues of $259M (2011), their annual R&D investment now exceeds $100 million, involving more than 500 staff worldwide (out of over 850 total employees). The company develops a range of SoCs (Systems on a Chip) but (as with most other chip design companies) does not own manufacturing facilities.
The company philosophy is that every time data leaves a device, one of Cavium's processors should touch it at some point in its journey. They derive a large proportion of revenues from mobile and telecoms infrastructure with Cisco (24% of revenue in 2011) and Samsung being their largest customers.
Their flagship chipset is the OCTEON range, used in telecom infrastructure, data centres and DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) products. These incorporate multiple MIPS64 scalar processors, multiple DSP processors and custom designed hardware accelerators.
Small Cell products
With a heritage in both 3G and 4G macrocell base station designs, Cavium are initially appearing in high end LTE small cells. They aim at capacities of 16 users and above, and their current chip can handle up to 128 concurrent users.
Their OCTEON Fusion chips have been used in two separate South Korean LTE small cell products, commercially deployed by both SK Telecom and KT (formerly known as Korean Telecom). These are believed to be supplied through Korean LTE small cell vendors Contela and Qucell respectively.
Their standard LTE reference design uses the ADI (Analog Devices) RF front end, delivering 100mW RF per antenna which achieves a useful range of up to 250 metres.
As with other chipset vendors, they provide their own Layer 1 (PHY – Physical Layer) software/firmware. More unusually, provide their own LTE Layer 2 and 3 software stack. This has already been successfully commercially deployed. They announced support for the Symmetricom timing and synchronisation ecosystem in 2012.
The OCTEON Fusion CNF7130 chip is designed for LTE only. A future chip version (planned for release in 2013) will support 3G as well. Other roadmap items include LTE-TDD mode (a software development), support for various LTE-Advanced features and higher power/range reference designs.