As the sphere of innovation shifts from hardware to software, a new breed of programmable servers, storage gear and networking chips is being created.
In a bid to capitalise on this, Intel have purchased networking chip manufacturer Barefoot, which creates semiconductors that can be programmed to meet specific needs.
These custom chips are the secret weapons of companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook – giving them the high bandwidth and mega processing power needed for the huge data centres that lie at the heart of big tech.
Barefoot’s new Tofino 2 chip is aimed straight at the data centre market, and with the capacity to process packets at up to 12.8Tbps, should help Intel find a firm foothold in this growing industry:
“Barefoot Networks will add deep expertise in cloud network architectures, P4-programmable high-speed data paths, switch silicon development, P4 compilers, driver software, network telemetry and computational networking” wrote Intel EVP Navin Shenoy in an editorial. “The addition of Barefoot Networks will support our focus on end-to-end cloud networking and infrastructure leadership, and will allow Intel to continue to deliver on new workloads, experiences and capabilities for our data center customers.”
As trade tensions loom and China threatens to build out its own semiconductor industry, American chipmakers are on the defensive – and Intel is not the only company trying to fend off competition with big acquisitions.
Back in March, rival firm NVIDIA purchased Barefoot’s peer Mellanox Technology in a deal also designed to serve the growing needs of data centres. But for Intel, the main competition in this segment is thought to be from California-based Broadcom, which controls the vast majority of the market in Ethernet switch chips that Barefoot specialises in.