Rockwell/Brooktree merger could drive set-top boxes

Modem chipset giant Rockwell International's planned $275m purchase of multimedia chip maker Brooktree Corp. will give it key technology for integration into set-top boxes, according to experts.

"I think Rockwell will bring a lot of money and credibility in blue-chip businesses," said Brett Butcher, managing director of Datapath Ltd., a UK graphics card maker which has used Brooktree ICs in its products. "Brooktree was seen as niche player. My guess is that they will integrate video and communications into dedicated technology for set-top boxes. They're a good company to work with and they have given us good support which you don't get from all chip companies. This will give them the critical mass you need to be a semiconductor firm."

While Rockwell has concentrated on modems, Brooktree has strength in digital communications including T-1, T-3, HDSL and ATM.

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