Sluggish NPUs pick up steam

March 1, 2005

The market for network-processor units (NPUs), which has been sluggish in recent years, may be improving, contends a new report from In-Stat (Scottsdale, AZ). NPU unit shipments grew 86% last year, and overall revenue will approach a half-billion dollars by the end of 2008, say In-Stat analysts. Although that growth is tempered by a penetration rate of just 10% of the possible sockets, it still results in significant shipment and revenue growth for the foreseeable future.

High-end NPUs (10 Gbits/sec and up) are “the bright lights in this market,” reports In-Stat analyst Eric Mantion. “Most types of information protocols can fit into harmonics of 10 Gbits/sec. This means that high-end NPUs are very valuable in places where there are many different types of protocols such as between local area networks and storage facilities.”

The mid-range (1- to 5-Gbit/sec) market is doing fine, thanks partly to designs created years ago. Meanwhile, the high-end (10-Gbit/sec-plus) market is expected to enjoy 155% growth from 2003 to ’04. High-end NPUs will grow their share of the total bounty from about 8% in 2003 to almost a quarter of the entire market by 2008.

For more details about the report, “NPU2004: Old Promises Create New Revenues,” call (480) 483-4454 or visit

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