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Amazon is expanding its role in the connected digital home with Annapurna Labs’ Alpine line of platform-on-chip and subsystem products, according to a January 6, 2016, press release. This move highlights the connected digital home opportunity and represents a major supply-chain move by the online commerce and cloud computing giant.

Amazon disrupts while expanding into the connected home

When Amazon purchased stealth-mode Annapurna Labs in January 2015, it seemed plausible that the start-up was designing low-power data center networking chips. However, its recent press release focused on the availability of its chips for connected digital home equipment vendors and highlighted design wins.

Annapurna Labs claims that the standard in-home networking or storage device lacks sufficient networking and computing resources, forcing consumers to use multiple devices and to depend on frequent software upgrades to support new features. The Alpine product line is based on four cores of high-performance compute capability, advanced storage interfaces, and support for 10G connectivity.

Amazon’s Annapurna Labs represents a major change to the home networking chip industry, where traditional merchant chip suppliers such as Avago/Broadcom, Intel, and Qualcomm have historically supplied the chips.

Annapurna Labs has secured early customers among home gateway, Wi-Fi, and NAS (network-attached storage) device vendors including Netgear, Asus, and Synology. According to Netgear, Alpine supports growing demand for media processing, HD video streaming, and tighter integration of cloud services along with seamless backup for all in-home-connected devices.

While Amazon is unlikely to become a one-stop shop for computing, networking, and storage, this move is significant. First, Amazon identified and acted on a serious problem within the home networking space – the need for lower-cost, higher-performance computing and networking resources. Second, Amazon is embedding itself in the heart of the connected digital home by supplying chips that support advanced media, storage, and computing equipment and applications.

Amazon’s reach as a merchant chip vendor could become very broad, further strengthening its role in online commerce, media, and cloud networking and storage.


Further reading

Google: Technology and Network Profile,TE0006-001064 (May 2015)


Julie Kunstler, Principal Analyst, Components and Intelligent Networks

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