ServerWorks Corporation was an American fabless semiconductor company based in Santa Clara, California, that manufactured chipsets for server computers and workstations running IA-32 microprocessors. Founded as Reliance Computer Corporation in 1994, it filed its initial public offering in the beginning of 2000 and was acquired by Broadcom for nearly US$1 billion.

ServerWorks Corporation
  • PRQ
  • Reliance Computer Corporation
Founded1994; 29 years ago (1994) in Santa Clara, California
FounderRaju Vegesna
Defunct2006; 17 years ago (2006)
FateAcquired by Broadcom Corporation in 2001; product line discontinued c. May 2006
ParentBroadcom Corporation (2001–2006)

History Edit

Dell PowerEdge 500SC motherboard with a Reliance-branded ServerSet III northbridge (NB6635, upper right) and ServerWorks-branded southbridge (SB7440, lower right)
Close up of a Champion 3.0 southbridge (IB6566) on a Supermicro motherboard
Logo of the company doing business as Reliable Computer Corporation

1994–2000: Foundation and growth Edit

ServerWorks was founded as PRQ—shortly thereafter Reliance Computer Corporation—in 1994 in Santa Clara, California.[1] The company was founded by Raju Vegesna and two friends of his.[1] Vegesna was named CEO and president;[2] prior to founding Reliance, Vegesna had been employed by Ross Technology, where he was the lead architect behind the hyperSPARC microprocessor. The company was largely funded through Vegesna's personal savings and in its first year only employed 12 people, most of whom bore several disparate job titles.[1] Reliance's first client was Compaq, who employed the company's Champion 1.0 chipset in their Professional Workstation 5100 in 1997. The same chipset was reused by Compaq for three of their ProLiant servers—the 5500, the 3000, and the 1600.[3][4]

Reliance, which was described as little-known and operating in semi-secrecy to that point,[3][5] was 60-percent owned by the Fujitsu Corporation of Japan in 1998, after Fujitsu had used Reliance's Champion in their Fujitsu–ICL Teamserver in 1997.[3] Fujitsu shortly after gave Vegesna the contacts to Intel's executives and bankrolled their signing of an agreement for Intel to license out their PCI bus patents to ServerWorks in 1998.[2] By 1999, Reliance had gained NEC,[5][2] Acer, Dell, IBM, Intergraph, and Siemens as key clients, and in the beginning of 2000, the company changed its name to ServerWorks Corporation.[2]

2000–2003: IPO and acquisition Edit

ServerWorks in 2000 employed 85 people; due to its smaller stature, the company was hesitant to consider developing for Intel's forthcoming 64-bit Itanium until the second generation (Itanium 2) had been released. Instead the company would focus squarely on server and workstation chipsets designed around 32-bit x86 (IA-32) microprocessors by Intel, with which ServerWorks signed a 10-year license in 1998 to license Intel's PCI architecture.[2] As Intel itself was a vendor of server chipsets (at the time, the 840 and the 450NX), ServerWorks was described by the technology press as having a cooperatively competitive relationship to Intel. Of this relationship, Kimball Brown, ServerWorks' president, spoke: "our main competitor is Intel ... but our best customer is Intel, too, and we're helping them sell lots of CPUs".[2] As opposed to Intel's emphasis on raw processing speed, ServerWorks' design philosophy centered on I/O capability.[2]

By the end of 2000, the company employed nearly 100 people,[6] had gone public, sold millions of chips, and reached an annual revenue of roughly $200 million.[7]: 51  In January 2001, Broadcom Corporation of Irvine, California, announced its intent to acquire ServerWorks for up to $1.87 billion in stock.[8] This planned acquisition, one among a spree of acquisitions for Broadcom during this time,[6] was described as bucking the trend for Broadcom in The New York Times, as, unlike the struggling companies Broadcom had acquired before, ServerWorks had posted revenue and was profitable.[8] Broadcom finalized the acquisition in mid-January 2000, with the stock swap value lowered to $957 million.[9][7]

2003–2006: Ousting of founders and dissolution Edit

ServerWorks continued to operating as an autonomous subsidiary of Broadcom for the next couple years. Part of the reason behind Broadcom's hands-off approach was down to legal concerns, as ServerWork's agreement with Intel's to license their PCI patents did not extend to Broadcom's own products.[10] ServerWorks' relationship with Intel meanwhile seemed to sour after Broadcom's acquisition, with Intel becoming more competitive in their marketing of its server chipsets.[11] By 2002, however, ServerWorks had a majority share in the server chipset market.[1]

In March 2003, Vegesna and a handful of other executives were ousted by Broadcom. Vegesna was immediately replaced by Duane R. Dickhut.[10] Ashlee Vance of The Register described Broadcom's dismissal of Vegesna as a "public spectacle" through its tersely worded press release, surmising that Vegesna may have asked for too much control of the subsidiary and was not receptive to his higher-ups at Broadcom, with a "fierce boardroom battle" ensuing.[12] The announcement had come one week after ServerWorks had reported a temporary chip shortage for March 2003, following poorer yields than usual of their chipsets.[13] Following a wrongful termination suit filed by Vegesna and the other executives, Broadcom settled out of court, paying them a combined $111 million.[14]

ServerWorks' dominance in the Intel-based server chipset faltered by 2006, when Intel overtook them in market share.[15] The company continued as a functional subsidiary of Broadcom until about May 2006, when Broadcom retired its products from their catalog.[16]

Chipsets Edit

  • ServerSet I (a.k.a. Champion 1.0) – featuring two 32-bit PCI buses and supporting up to six Pentium Pro processors; discontinued by the early 2000s[15]: 303 
  • ServerSet II – featuring one 64-bit PCI bus and supporting up to four Pentium II Xeon processors; discontinued by the early 2000s[15]: 303 
  • ServerSet III – featuring one 64-bit PCI bus and supporting up to four Pentium III Xeon processors (six with processor-bus modification)[17][18]
  • Champion – available in three variants: Champion LE (Entry) and Champion HE-SL (Volume) supporting up to two Pentium III Xeons with a front-side bus (FSB) clock frequency of 100 MHz; and Champion HE (Enterprise) supporting up to four Pentium III Xeons with an FSB of 133 MHz; the HE-SL and HE come with the CIOB-20 I/O bridge chip; the HE also comes with the MADP memory controller chip[15]: 304 
  • Grand Champion – available in three variants: Grand Champion SL (Entry) and Grand Champion LE (Volume) supporting up to two Pentium 4–based Xeons with an FSB of 533/400 MHz; and Grand Champion HE (Enterprise) supporting up to four Pentium 4 Xeons with an FSB of 400 MHz[15]: 306 

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d Merritt, Rick (August 5, 2002). "ServerWorks chief says no to PCI Express". Electronic Engineering Times. CMP Media (1230) – via ProQuest.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Hachman, Mark (January 31, 2000). "IPO-Ready Reliance Reveals Plans". Electronic Buyers' News. CMP Publications (1196): 10 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ a b c Staff writer (March 19, 1998). "Compaq Turns to Fujitsu's Reliance for Multiprocessor NT". Computergram International. GlobalData – via Gale OneFile.
  4. ^ Staff writer (September 15, 1997). "Compaq Keeps Up the Pressure on Sun with New Workstations". Computergram International. GlobalData – via Gale OneFile.
  5. ^ a b Staff writer (November 4, 1997). "NEC Skips Intel's Madrona I2O Board for Faster Design". Computergram International. GlobalData – via Gale OneFile.
  6. ^ a b Alexander, Karen (January 9, 2001). "Broadcom to Buy ServerWorks in a $1-Billion Stock Issuance Plan". Los Angeles Times: C1 – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ a b Arensman, Russ (January 2002). "After the Tech Wreck". Electronic Business. Reed Elsevier. 28 (1): 49–54 – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ a b Staff writer (January 9, 2001). "Broadcom to Acquire Serverworks". The New York Times: 4 – via ProQuest.
  9. ^ Robertson, Jack (January 12, 2001). "ServerWorks acquisition key for Broadcom". Electronic Engineering Times. AspenCore.
  10. ^ a b Hachman, Mark (March 26, 2003). "Key Execs Leave ServerWorks". ExtremeTech. Ziff-Davis.
  11. ^ Robertson, Jack (March 1, 2001). "Intel and ServerWorks to compete in server chipsets". Electronic Engineering Times. AspenCore.
  12. ^ Vance, Ashlee (March 27, 2003). "Broadcom axes ServerWorks chief". The Register.
  13. ^ Kanellos, Michael (March 11, 2003). "ServerWorks short on chipsets". CNET. Red Ventures.
  14. ^ Vance, Ashlee (May 3, 2003). "Broadcom pays out $111m in ServerWorks case". The Register.
  15. ^ a b c d e Mueller, Scott; Mark Edward Soper; Barrie Sosinsky (2006). Upgrading and Repairing Servers. Pearson Education. p. 303. ISBN 9780132796989 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ "Page not found". Broadcom Inc. May 2006. Archived from the original on May 12, 2006. Compare with previous archive capture.
  17. ^ Chu, Francis (October 16, 2000). "Dell does well in mission-critical role". eWeek. QuinStreet Enterprise: 93 – via Gale.
  18. ^ Bass, John (September 18, 2000). "HP review". Network World. IDG Publications: 79 – via Gale.

External links Edit