Broadcom Corporation

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Broadcom Corporation
FoundedAugust 1991; 31 years ago (1991-08)
FoundersHenry Nicholas
Henry Samueli
FateBecame a wholly owned subsidiary of Broadcom Limited after being acquired by Avago Technologies
HeadquartersIrvine, California, United States
Key people
ProductsIntegrated circuits
Cable converter boxes
Gigabit Ethernet
Wireless networks
Cable modems
Network switches
Digital subscriber line
Server farms
ParentBroadcom Inc.
(since 2016)

Broadcom Corporation is an American fabless semiconductor company that makes products for the wireless and broadband communication industry. It was acquired by Avago Technologies in 2016 and currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of the merged entity Broadcom Inc.


1995-2016: Founding and growth[edit]

Broadcom Corporation was founded by professor-student pair Henry Samueli and Henry Nicholas from UCLA in 1991. In 1995 the company moved from its Westwood, Los Angeles office to Irvine, California.[1] In 1998, Broadcom became a public company on the NASDAQ exchange (ticker symbol: BRCM) and employs about 11,750 people worldwide in more than 15 countries.[when?]

In 2012, Broadcom's total revenue was $8.01 billion. As of 2011, Broadcom was among Gartner's Top 10 Semiconductor Vendors by revenue.[2] Broadcom first landed on the Fortune 500 in 2009,[3] and climbed to spot #327 in 2013.[4]

2016: Acquisition[edit]

On May 28, 2015 chip maker Avago Technologies Ltd. agreed to buy Broadcom Corp. for $37 billion in cash and stock. At closing, which completed on February 1, 2016,[5] Broadcom shareholders held 32% of the new Singapore-based company to be called Broadcom Limited. Hock Tan, Avago President and CEO, was named CEO of the new combined company. Dr. Samueli became Chief Technology Officer and member of the combined company's board, and Dr. Nicholas serves in a strategic advisory role within the new company.[6][7] The new merged entity is named Broadcom Limited but inherits the ticker symbol AVGO. The BRCM ticker symbol was retired.

In May 2016 Cypress Semiconductor announced that it will acquire Broadcom Corporation's full portfolio of IoT products for $550 million. Under the deal, Cypress acquires Broadcom's IoT products and intellectual property for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee connectivity, as well as Broadcom's WICED platform and SDK for developers. The deal combined Broadcom's developer tools and connectivity technologies for IoT devices with Cypress' own programmable system-on-a-chip (SoC) products that provide memory, computing and graphics processing for low-power devices.[8]

Battle with Qualcomm[edit]

In June 2007, the U.S. International Trade Commission blocked the import of new cell phone models based on particular Qualcomm microchips. They had found that these Qualcomm microchips infringed on patents owned by Broadcom.[9] In January 2017, the FTC sued Qualcomm, who allegedly made use of unlawful tactics to maintain "a monopoly on cellular-communications chips."[10]

On April 26, 2009, Broadcom settled its four-year legal battle with Qualcomm over wireless and other patents.[11] The deal also ended the complaints of anti-competitive behavior. As part of the settlement, Qualcomm paid $891 million in cash to Broadcom over a four-year period ending June 2013.[12]

On March 12, 2018, President Donald Trump blocked a hostile takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom. The chipmaker had offered over $117B for Qualcomm, and nominated 11 rival directors to its board, but the deal was barred in the interest of national security.[13] Broadcom, then headquartered in Singapore, was considered too close to China and chipmaker Huawei. "A shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States," CFIUS said. "While the United States remains dominant in the standards-setting space currently, China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover."[14]

Others have stated that Mr. Trump's decision was as consistent with balance of trade objectives as it was with security concerns.[15]

2006-2008: Stock options backdating scandal[edit]

In March, 2006, a report by the Center for Financial Research and Analysis identified Broadcom as one of 17 companies "at risk" for having back-dated stock options grants between 1997 and 2002.[16][17] On May 18, 2006, amid media reports about options practices, Broadcom said it had started an internal review of its stock options grants.[18] On June 12, 2006, Broadcom announced it had received a "request for information" from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and that it might soon be the subject of an informal inquiry.[16]

On July 14, 2006, Broadcom estimated it would have to subtract $750 million from earnings due to stock options irregularities. On September 8, 2006, the company announced the amount was at least $1.5 billion, "and could be substantially more."[17][18] On December 18, 2006, the SEC opened a formal investigation of Broadcom's options practices.[19][20] On January 24, 2007, Broadcom announced a restatement of its financial results from 1998 to 2005 to include a total of $2.24 billion-worth of expenses related to stock option-based compensation.[21] The grants remained the subject of the formal inquiry by the SEC, and an informal inquiry by federal prosecutors.[21]

In March–May 2008, the SEC announced charges against Broadcom for fraudulently backdating stock options for nearly five years, from June 1998 to May 2003.[22] In its complaint, the SEC alleged that Broadcom's top officers at the time had misrepresented the dates on which stock options were granted to executives and employees. In describing the scheme, the SEC said: "Through backdating, Broadcom made it appear that the options were granted at times corresponding to low points of the closing price of Broadcom's stock — despite the fact that the purported grant date bore no relation to when the grant was actually approved. This resulted in artificially and fraudulently low exercise prices for those options."[22]

On May 15, 2008, Broadcom co-founder and CTO Henry Samueli resigned as chairman of the board, and took a leave of absence as Chief Technology Officer.[citation needed] On June 5, 2008, Broadcom co-founder and former CEO Henry Nicholas and former CFO William Ruehle were indicted on charges of illegal stock-option backdating. Nicholas was also indicted for violations of federal narcotics laws.[23] However, in December 2009, federal judge Cormac J. Carney threw out the options backdating charges against Nicholas and Ruehle because of prosecutorial misconduct, after finding that federal prosecutors improperly tried to prevent three defense witnesses from testifying.[24][25]

Anticompetitive practices[edit]

On January 17, 2018, it was reported that the FTC had investigating Broadcom for several months in regard to its anti-competitive tactics while negotiating with customers.[10]

In 2021, Broadcom agreed to settle an antitrust complaint which claimed it had abused its monopoly power through restrictive contract terms and threats of retaliation against non-compliant customers.[26] Such contract terms stifle innovation and inevitably lead to higher prices. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Broadcom’s contract terms with six main customers would “create serious and irreversible harm to competition” if no action were taken.[27]

Lawsuit against Netflix[edit]

In 2020, Broadcom sued Netflix over multiple patent infringements. Critics have argued that Broadcom is suing Netflix for being more successful.[28] The traditional pay TV industry has undeniably lost a large number of subscribers, which may be because of the rise of new internet streaming services. The Leichtman Research Group calculated that the largest pay TV providers in the U.S. – representing about 95% of the market – lost about 4,915,000 net video subscribers in 2019.[29]

Back in 2017, Broadcom filed an array of patent suits against manufacturers of smart TVs.[30] In 2018, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled against Broadcom, finding that two manufacturers did not infringe on patents owned by Broadcom.


Broadcom produces the system on a chip for the line of popular Raspberry Pi single-board computers.

Broadcom's product line spans computer and telecommunication networking: the company has products for enterprise/metropolitan high-speed networks, as well as products for SOHO (small-office, home-office) networks. Products include transceiver and processor ICs for Ethernet and wireless LANs, cable modems, digital subscriber line (DSL), servers, home networking devices (router, switches, port-concentrators) and cellular phones (GSM/GPRS/EDGE/W-CDMA/LTE). It is also known for a series of high-speed encryption co-processors, offloading this processor-intensive work to a dedicated chip, thus greatly speeding up tasks that utilize encryption. This has many practical benefits for e-commerce, and PGP or GPG secure communications.

The company also produces ICs for carrier access equipment, audio/video processors for digital set-top boxes and digital video recorders, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transceivers and RF receivers/tuners for satellite TV. Major customers include Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, IBM, Dell, Asus, Lenovo, Linksys, Logitech, Nintendo, Nokia, Nortel(Avaya), TiVo, Tenda and Cisco Systems. In September 2011, Broadcom shut down its digital TV operations.[31] Broadcom also shut down its Blu-ray chip business. The closure of these businesses began on September 19, 2011.

On June 2, 2014, Broadcom announced intentions to exit the cellular baseband business.[32]

Network interface controllers[edit]

Vendors have included Broadcom NICs in their products. For example, Dell PowerEdge M-Series blade-server products may be fitted with Dell-supplied Dual Port Broadcom NetXtreme 5709 Gigabit Ethernet port adapters.[33]

Trident+ ASIC[edit]

Another large market is hardware for switches: some vendors offer switching equipment based on Broadcom hardware and firmware (e.g. Dell PowerConnect classics) while other well-known vendors do use the Broadcom hardware but write their own firmware. The latest Broadcom Trident+ ASIC is used in many high-speed 10Gb+ switches from the largest switch-vendors such as Cisco Nexus switches running NX-OS,[34] Dell Force10 (now Dell Networking) running FTOS/DNOS,[35][36] all Arista 7050-series switches,[37] the IBM/BNT 8264, and Juniper QFX3500.[38]

The latest 'member' of the Trident family is the Trident II XGS which can support up to 32 x 40G ports or 104 x 10G ports (or a mix of both) on a single chip.[39][40] Examples of switches using this Trident II XGS chip are the Dell Networking S6000,[41] Cisco Nexus 9000[42] and some smaller vendors like: EdgeCore AS6700, Penguin Arctica 3200XL or QuantaMesh T5032[43]

Graphics processing unit[edit]

VideoCore is the GPU found on some systems-on-a-chip (SoC)s by Broadcom, the most widely known one being the BCM2835 containing VideoCore IV found in the Raspberry Pi.

Video acceleration[edit]

Broadcom Crystal HD does video acceleration.

WiFi chipsets[edit]

Broadcom "BCM43" series chips provide WiFi support in many Android and iPhone devices. Models include the BCM4339 used in phones such as the Nexus 5 (2013) and the BCM4361 used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 (2017). These are SoC devices with a Cortex R4 for processing the MAC and MLME layers and a proprietary Broadcom processor for the 802.11 physical layer.[44] The chips also handle Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth and NFC.[45]

  • Broadcom supplies the WiFi+Bluetooth combo chip for Apple iPhone 3GS and later generations and corresponding iPod touch generations.
  • In Q2 2005, Broadcom Corporation announced it would be providing Nintendo its “online solution on a chip” as deployed in millions of notebooks and PDAs across the globe, enabling Nintendo 802.11b connectivity with DS and 802.11g for the Wii. More specifically, Broadcom would provide Bluetooth connectivity for Wii's controller.[citation needed]
  • In 2013 Broadcom unveiled the first 802.11ac 5G Wifi SOCs which is adopted across many mobile phones including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, the HTC One and the LG Nexus 5. Additionally, routers from Motorola, Netgear, Huawei and Belkin also include Broadcom's 802.11ac chips.

Vulnerabilities in SoC WiFi stack[edit]

In April 2017, Google's Project Zero investigated Broadcom's SoC WiFi stack and found that it lacked "all basic exploit mitigations - including stack cookies, safe unlinking and access permission protection," allowing "full device takeover by Wi-Fi proximity alone, requiring no user interaction."[46] Numerous smartphones, such as by Apple, Samsung and Google were affected.[47][48][49]


Broadcom authored its own VoIP codecs in 2002, and released them as open source with LGPL license in 2009:[50]

  • BroadVoice 16 with declared bitrate 16 kbit/s and audio sampling frequency 8 kHz
  • BroadVoice 32 with declared bitrate 32 kbit/s and sampling rate of 16 kHz (note however that X-Lite SIP phone's menu declares bitrate 80,000 bit/s)

Linux products[edit]

Some free and open source drivers are available and included in the Linux kernel source tree for the 802.11b/g/a/n family of wireless chips Broadcom produces.[51] Since the release of the 2.6.26 kernel some Broadcom chips have kernel support but require external firmware to be built.

In 2003 the Free Software Foundation accused Broadcom of not complying with the GNU General Public License as Broadcom distributed GPL code in a driver for its 802.11g router chipset without making that code public.

The chipset was adopted by Linksys which was later purchased by Cisco. Cisco eventually published source code for the firmware for its WRT54G wireless broadband router under the GPL-license.[52][53]

In 2012 the Linux Foundation listed Broadcom as one of the Top 10 companies contributing to the development of the Linux Kernel for 2011, placing it in the top 5 percent of an estimated 226 contributing companies. The foundation's Linux Kernel Development report also noted that, during the course of the year, Broadcom submitted 2,916 changes to the kernel.[54] In October, Broadcom released parts of the Raspberry Pi userland under a BSD-style license. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, this made it "the first ARM-based multimedia SoC with fully functional, vendor-provided (as opposed to partial, reverse-engineered) fully open-source drivers", although due to substantial binary firmware code which must be executing in parallel with the operating system, and which executes independently and prior to loading of the operating system, this claim has not been universally accepted.[55][56]

Broadcom provided a Linux driver for their Broadcom Crystal HD, and they also hired Emma Anholt, a former Intel employee, to work on a free and open-source graphics device driver for their VideoCore IV.

Raspberry Pi[edit]

Broadcom organizes the fabrication of the processor chip, most recently the BCM2837 chip and the wifi processor BCM43438, which is used by the charitable Raspberry Pi Foundation.[57] The foundation requested help from Broadcom making the Raspberry Pi card, a motherboard which is free of DRM or corporate control of any kind, which can interact with hardware, and which can be bought and controlled by children.[citation needed]

Jericho2 Programmable Chip[edit]

Jericho2 is a programmable Ethernet switch chip that has up to 10 Tbit/s switching capacity per device.[58]

Tomahawk-3 Chip[edit]

Tomahawk 3 series supports high-density, standards based 400GbE, 200GbE, and 100GbE switching and routing for hyperscale cloud networks. Broadcom divulged that it is bringing two variants of the Tomahawk-3 to market. The first has the full-tilt-boogie 12.8 Tbit/s with all 256 SerDes fired up, supporting 32 ports at 400 Gbit/s, 64 ports at 200 Gbit/s, and 128 ports at 100 Gbit/s. The second variant of the Tomahawk-3 has 160 of the 256 SerDes fired up and delivers 8 Tbit/s of aggregate bandwidth. Broadcom is suggesting 80 ports at 100 Gbit/s; or 48 ports at 100 Gbit/s plus either 8 ports at 400 Gbit/s or 16 ports at 200 Gbit/s; or 96 ports at 50 Gbit/s plus either 8 ports at 400 Gbit/s or 16 ports at 200 Gbit/s.[59]


Notable employees[edit]

Broadcom Fellows from 1998 to 2011

Broadcom Fellows Wall

Notable alumni[edit]

Many Broadcom employees have gone on to take key positions in successful tech enterprises and starts ups, including:


Broadcom is known as a fabless company. It outsources all semiconductor manufacturing to foundries, such as GlobalFoundries, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, Silterra, TSMC and United Microelectronics Corporation. The company is based in Irvine, California. Since 2018, the company has been based at a custom-built headquarters campus just south of the Orange County Great Park. The company originally intended to occupy the entire campus, but after the Avago acquisition, it sold the site to FivePoint Holdings and then leased back only two of the four buildings.

Broadcom was previously headquartered in the University Research Park on the University of California, Irvine campus from 2007 to 2018, and before that was headquartered near the Irvine Spectrum. The company has many other research and development sites including Silicon Fen, Cambridge (UK), Bangalore and Hyderabad in India, Richmond (near Vancouver) and Markham (near Toronto) in Canada and Sophia Antipolis in France.


In September 2011, Broadcom bought NetLogic Microsystems for a deal of $3.7 billion in cash, excluding around $450 million of NetLogic employee shareholdings, which will transfer to Broadcom.[65]

Besides the NetLogic Microsystems acquisition, through the years, Broadcom has acquired many smaller companies to quickly enter new markets.[66]

Date Acquired company Amount Expertise
January 1999 Maverick Networks $104M in Stock Multi-layer switches for corporate networks
April 1999 Epigram $316M in stock Home networking using telephone wiring, WiFi
June 1999 Armedia Inc. $67.2M in stock Digital Video Decoders[67]
August 1999 HotHaus Technologies $280M in stock DSP software for VOIP
August 1999 Altocom $180M in stock Software modem software
January 2000 BlueSteel Networks $123M in stock Security processors
March 2000 Digital Furnace Corp $136M in stock Data compression software
March 2000 Stellar Semiconductor $162M in stock 3D graphics processors
June 2000 Pivotal Technologies $242M in stock Digital video chips
July 2000 Innovent Systems $500M in stock Bluetooth radios
August 2000 Puyallup Integrated Circuit Company IC design and IC macro blocks
July 2000 Altima Communications $533M in stock Networking chips
October 2000 Newport Communications $1240M in stock 10Gbit Ethernet transceivers
October 2000 Silicon Spice $1000M in stock DSP chips for VOIP
November 2000 Element 14 $594M in stock DSL chipsets
November 2000 SiByte, Inc $2060M in stock[68][69] Fabless producer of 64-bit MIPS networking processor[70]
December 2000 Allayer Communications $271M in stock Enterprise and optical networking chips
January 2001 VisionTech, Ltd. $777M in stock MPEG-2 compression/decompression of PVRs
January 2001 ServerWorks Corp. $1003M in stock I/O controllers for servers and workstations
July 2001 PortaTec Corporation Mobile devices
July 2001 Kimalink Wireless and mobile ICs
May 2002 Mobilink Telecom, Inc. $5.6M shares of stock Baseband processors for cellphones
March 2003 Gadzoox $5.8M in cash Storage-area networks
January 2004 RAIDCore, Inc. $16.5M in cash RAID software
April 2004 M-Stream Inc. $8.7M in cash and 27000 shares of stock Technology to improve wireless reception
April 2004 Sand Video, Inc. $77.5M in stock and $7.4M in cash Video compression technology
April 2004 WIDCOMM, Inc. $49M in cash Software for Bluetooth systems
April 2004 Zyray Wireless, Inc. $96M in stock Baseband processors for WCDMA
September 2004 Alphamosaic, Ltd. $123M in stock Video processors for mobile devices
February 2005 Alliant Networks, Inc. Cellular gateway products
March 2005 Zeevo, Inc. $26.4M in cash and $2.6M in stock Bluetooth headset products
July 2005 Siliquent Technologies, Inc. $76M in cash 10Gbit Ethernet interface controllers
October 2005 Athena Semiconductors, Inc. $21.6M in cash Digital TV tuners and Wifi technology
January 2006 Sandburst Corporation $75M in cash and $5M in stock SOC chips for Ethernet packet switching
November 2006 LVL7 Systems, Inc. $62M in cash Networking software
May 2007 Octalica, Inc. $31M in cash Multimedia Over Coax technology
June 2007 Global Locate, Inc. $146M in cash GPS chips and software
March 2008 Sunext Design, Inc. $48M in cash Optical disk drive technologies
August 2008 AMD (DTV Processor Division) $141.5M in cash (Original deal was $192.8M)[71] Xilleon DTV processor chips, software and TV tuners
December 2009 Dune Networks[72] $178M in cash High speed network switches
February 2010 Teknovus[73] $123M in cash Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) chipsets and software
June 2010 Innovision Research & Technology plc[74] $47.5M in cash Near field communication expertise and IP
October 2010 Beceem Communications[75] $316M in cash 4G LTE/WiMax expertise
November 2010 Gigle Networks[76] $75M in cash Multimedia home networking
April 2011 Provigent Ltd.[77] $313M in cash Microwave Backhaul
May 2011 SC Square Ltd.[78] $41.9M in cash Israel-based security software developer
September 2011 NetLogic Microsystems $3.7 billion Next-generation Internet networks
March 2012 BroadLight[79] $230M in cash Israel-based fiber access PON developer
June 2012 Wisair $1M in cash Short-range Wireless data transmission
January 2013 BroadLogic Video encoders/decoders,[80] QAM modulation and wideband receivers.
September 2013 Renesas Mobile Corporation $164M in cash Mobile chipset platforms (LTE-Related Assets)
2013 LSI $6.6 billion[81] Hardware RAID manufacturer
2014 Emulex $609 million[81]
November 2016 Brocade Communications Systems $5.9 billion[81] Network switch manufacturer
November 2018 CA Technologies $19 billion
August 2019 Symantec (Enterprise Security division) $10.7 billion[82]
May 2022 VMware $69 billion Cloud software company


The Broadcom logo was designed by Eliot Hochberg, based on the logo for the company's previous name, Broadband Telecom. The Broadband Telecom logo was designed by co-founder Henry Nicholas' then wife, Stacey Nicholas, who was inspired by the mathematical sinc function.[citation needed]


In 2009, the company founded the Broadcom Foundation as a non-profit corporation with a $50M investment, at the direction of Henry Samueli, the company's co-founder, and then-Broadcom Chief Executive Scott A. McGregor, who cited a history of science fair involvement as a factor for his own success.[83][84] McGregor was named the foundation's first president and chairman.[84][85]

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