What Does Intel Want with an Ethernet Switch Maker?

Paul Lilly

When you're the largest chip maker in the universe, you can afford to toss money at companies big and small, even if their primary business is to design Ethernet switch silicon for data center network providers. That describes Fulcrum Micrososystems Inc., a privately held fabless semiconductor company that will become Intel's latest acquisition. The question is, what does Intel want with Fulcrum?

"Intel is transforming from a leading server technology company to a comprehensive data center provider that offers computing, storage and networking building blocks," said Kirk Skaugen , Intel vice president and general manager, Data Center Group. "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."

According to Intel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) networks are one of the fastest-growing market segments in the data center today. It just so happens that Fulcrum Microsystems designs integrated, standards-based 10GbE and 40GbE switch silicon, both of which boast low latency and workload balancing capabilities.

The deal also puts Intel in a better position to compete with Cisco.

"Our customers are looking to purchase compute, networking, and storage as one unit," said Steve Schultz, director of marketing at Intel, according to InfoWorld . "This is a building block we didn't have in our product portfolio."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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