Intel Acquires InfiniBand

Intel is best known in the networking space for its Ethernet networking gear but with the $125M purchase of InfiniBand from QLogic, it's moving to take a place in InfiniBand, too.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 23, 2012
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Intel is getting into the InfiniBand high-speed networking market in a big way today. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) announced its intention to acquire InfiniBand technology assets from QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq:QLGC) for $125 million in cash. The deal is set to close by the end of this quarter.

InfiniBand offers the promise of higher networking speeds and lower latency than Ethernet. It is typically deployed in high performance computing (HPC) environments, though in recent years its' use in the enterprise has grown thanks to Oracle, which uses InfiniBand in its engineered systems portfolio of products including Exalogic and Exadata.

Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center and Connected System Group, told InternetNews.com that the high-end HPC market segment, sometimes also referred as supercomputers, represents a significant and growing opportunity for Intel.

"InfiniBand has been a growing fabric within the largest supercomputers in the world and Intel believes that end-users will benefit significantly with more competition and innovation in the InfiniBand and fabric ecosystem," Skaugen said. "In addition, Intel believes there are longer term innovations available within next generation high-end supercomputer fabric as we drive Exascale computing by 2018, which this team will help accelerate.

"We believe Intel will have a comprehensive networking portfolio with our InfiniBand and Ethernet products," Skaugen said.

In recent years, Intel has been working on their Ethernet portfolio with new Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) technologies.

While Intel is aiming to bolster its HPC positioning, in a research note, analyst firm Stifel Nicolaus said that QLogic has struggled in the InfiniBand market against rival Mellanox. Mellanox debuted 56 Gbps InfiniBand in 2011 and this year will be further accelerating its low latency networking solutions.

Mellanox sees the QLogic InfiniBand sale as a good thing for industry as a whole.

"It is a great endorsement that InfiniBnad has become a major requirement in HPC, data center, Web 2.0, storage and cloud," Brian Sparks, senior director of Marketing Communications, told InternetNews.com. "Intel acknowledges the importance of the interconnect to serve the I/O needs of the applications. We believe that the market will grow significantly and Mellanox will enjoy the growth as the market leader, currently our share is approximately 80 - 85 percent."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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