Chip giant Intel is expanding its networking product portfolio with the acquisition of Fulcrum, which makes silicon for 10GbE and 40GbE switches.
continuing its push to become a chip supplier for all areas of the data center,
is buying Fulcrum Microsystems, a vendor that designs chips for Ethernet
Intel officials, announcing the deal for the privately held
fabless semiconductor company, said Fulcrum will add to the growing list of
data center offerings beyond their core server processors.
"Intel is transforming from a leading server technology
company to a comprehensive data center provider that offers computing, storage
and networking building blocks," Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general
manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said in a statement. "Fulcrum
Microsystems' switch silicon, already recognized for high performance and low
latency, complements Intel's leading processors and Ethernet controllers, and
will deliver our customers new levels of performance and energy efficiency
while improving their economics of cloud service delivery."
Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Intel
officials expect to close the deal in the third quarter, pending approval by
Fulcrum shareholders and government regulators.
The 12-year-old Fulcrum makes 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 40GbE
chips that company officials say offer a combination of low latency, converged
fabric, flexibility and scalability. Its standards-based FocalPoint silicon
product offerings range from its FM2000 Series of L2 switches with up to 24
10GbE ports to its new FM6000 L2-L4 fabric with up to 72 10GbE or 18 40GbE
Fulcrum also offers a number of reference designs, a
FocalPoint Software line of applications for Ethernet bridging, switching and
routing that is integrated into a Linux framework, and PivotPoint portfolio of
Arista Networks is a networking company that uses Fulcrum
chips in its switches.
"Fulcrum Microsystems has architecture capabilities ideal for
low-latency applications, and we are excited about the future possibilities of
this technology as Fulcrum is acquired by Intel, the world's largest semiconductor
manufacturer," Andy Bechtolsheim, founder, chief development officer and
chairman of Arista, said in a statement.
Intel officials said that cloud computing is driving the
demand not only for the high performance and low latency offered by 10GbE and
40GbE networks, but also in the continued convergence of data center server,
storage and networking technologies. The chip-making giant is looking to take
advantage of that convergence to build a portfolio of comprehensive data center
building blocks-based around its Xeon processors-that touch on servers, storage
Intel executives have aggressively pushed to expand their
business beyond their traditional PC and server chips. In one direction, the
vendor is looking to challenge chip designer ARM Holdings in the booming market
for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
In the data center, Intel is pursuing the opportunities made
available by the growing demand for converged offerings. Most major OEMs-from
Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems to Dell and IBM-are outlining strategies
designed to offer enterprises complete data center solutions. In Intel's case,
that means rapidly expanding the capabilities of its Xeon chips while also
offering an array of networking and storage technologies, such as Ethernet
controllers and solid-state
Intel also is moving into the security space, a strategy
highlighted by its acquisition of security software maker McAfee earlier this
Analysts with Deutsche Bank said in a July 19 research note
that while the deal probably wouldn't impact Intel's bottom line much, it
strategically makes a lot of sense, enabling the company to further
"leverage its existing strengths in server" processors.
The analysts noted that Intel estimates that through its
server chips, it is only able to capture about 2 percent of the money
businesses spend on data center technology.
"Intel intends to grow its share of data center spend by
expanding into storage, networking and security products," the Deutsche
Bank analysts wrote in the research note. "The acquisition of Fulcrum
should boost Intel's presence in Networking and complement a strong position in
10Gb Ethernet controllers."
It also will bring Intel into closer competition with the
likes of such switch silicon makers as Broadcom and Marvell, they said.