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Cisco to Buy Memory IP Maker Memoir Systems

Memoir's technology will enable Cisco to build networking chips that are faster, smaller and more affordable than current ASICs.

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Cisco Systems is buying Memoir Systems to bring faster and more affordable memory technologies to the ASICs the networking vendor uses in its switches.

According to Cisco, Memoir licenses its IP and offers tools that can speed up memory access by as much as 10 times while reducing the amount of space in the switch or router ASIC that memory takes up. The results are networking chips that are faster and smaller than current ASICs, some that Cisco officials said will be important as data centers become more dense, demand greater speed and handle new workloads like big data jobs.

"Currently in the data center switching market, denser infrastructure and data-intensive workloads are driving demand for higher port density (feeds) and greater bitrates (speeds)," Hilton Romanski, senior vice president and head of business development at Cisco, said in a post on the company blog. "At the same time, the accelerating growth of scale-out (non-virtualized) Big Data applications like Hadoop are driving increasing East-West data traffic—furthering the need for greater data center network density."

However, the physical memory that currently is used in networking switch chips is not made to handle such demands and "can become the bottleneck that limits the density and performance of future data center switches," Romanski wrote.

Memoir's technology can change that, he said. The faster speeds, smaller sizes and better costs that the company's offerings can bring to ASIC development will mean new switch and router chips that can handle the increased port densities and speeds that are coming with the migration from 10 Gigabit Ethernet to 40GbE and 100GbE.

The deal was announced Sept. 18, but no financial details were released. It is expected to close in the first quarter in 2015. Once completed, the Memoir employees will be moved into Cisco's Insieme Business Unit, run by Senior Vice President Mario Mazzola. Insieme was the "spin-in" company created by Cisco to develop its network virtualization strategy.

The result was Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative, which the company introduced last year. The goal of the ACI strategy is to use a combination of hardware and software to create networking infrastructures that can be optimized in both physical and virtual environments and that can leverage partnerships with other vendors to get the best performance out of applications.

The Memoir deal comes a day after Cisco announced it is buying Metacloud, whose technology enables businesses to more easily build OpenStack-based private clouds.