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Rockwell creates new division

Looking to bolster its networking business, Rockwell Semiconductor announces the formation of a division for high-speed digital communications.

Looking to bolster its networking business, Rockwell Semiconductor Systems (ROK) today announced the formation of a network access division.

The division marks the second restructuring that Rockwell has announced in the past two weeks. The semiconductor unit last week unveiled a digital "infotainment" division.

In the new networking wing, Rockwell will develop and market complementary products for the high-speed local and wide area networks.

The division will house Rockwell's 56-kbps modem chip business and the high-speed digital communications portion of its Brooktree division. Brooktree, acquired by Rockwell in 1996, produces XDSL modem chips, voice compression devices, and a controller product line.

Raouf Halim, Rockwell vice president and general manager, will head the new division. He previously served as the company's vice president of VLSI engineering.

"This division will allow us to focus on a common set of customers who use parts of our [semiconductor unit's] product portfolio," Halim said, "to leverage the products we have, work with customers in helping them to understand Rockwell products, and help them understand where we're going in the future."

He added that the networking division comprises ten percent of the semiconductor unit's overall revenues and has the highest profit margins, as well as the lowest revenue fluctuation, of the unit's divisions.

"We believe that over the next five years, our division will constitute over 25 percent of the unit's business," Halim said.

Meanwhile, the semiconductor unit last week announced a deal to acquire ComStream's chipset division for $50 million. The deal is expected to close in May.

Under the agreement, ComStream's Hi-Media broadband communications division will be folded into the digital infotainment division, which will include the modem communications products used in digital set-top boxes and Internet access terminals, as well as the graphics and video business units of Brooktree.