Cisco grabs Exablaze for low-latency chip technology

Cisco continues to build up its internal electronics tools, saying it will acquire Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology designer Exablaze.

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Cisco continues to build up its internal-electronics tools with its planned purchase of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology designer Exablaze for an undisclosed amount.

Exablaze, founded in 2013, specializes in low-latency FPGAs used to construct logically reconfigurable digital circuits for networking gear in high-performance environments such as data centers, high-frequency trading (HFT), big-data analytics, high-performance computing and telecommunications. Exablaze products include FPGA-based switches and network interface cards (NICs), as well as picosecond-resolution timing technology.

Cisco says once the deal closes it will integrate Exablaze technology with its Nexus switching portfolio.

“In the case of the high-frequency trading sector, every sliver of time matters. By adding Exablaze’s segment leading ultra-low latency devices and FPGA-based applications to our portfolio, financial and HFT customers will be better positioned to achieve their business objectives and deliver on their customer value proposition,” wrote Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s vice president of corporate Development and Cisco Investments, in a blog post about the deal.

Exablaze competes with Mellanox (Nvidia is looking to acquire Mellanox for $6.8 billion), Metamako, Solarflare, Moxa and others.

The Exablaze move would be Cisco’s sixth acquisition this year, but also third in the last 13 months to involve a chip technology.

The most recent – the still pending $3.7 billion deal for Acacia announced in July – promises to bring Cisco high-speed coherent-optical interconnect products that are designed to transform networks linking data centers, cloud and service providers.

In February, Cisco bought optical-semiconductor firm Luxtera for $660 million, bringing it the advanced optical technology customers will need for speed and throughput for future data-center and webscale networks.

While not all directly integrated, the acquisitions are part of another move by Cisco into silicon.

The company last week announced its custom Silicon One chip technology and new Cisco 8000 Series carrier-class routers built on that silicon, which the company says has been in development for more than five years, at a cost of over $1 billion.

The Cisco Silicon One Q100 optical-routing silicon brings up to 10Tbps of network bandwidth in its first iteration – with a future goal of 25Tbps – and support for large non-blocking distributed routers, deep buffering with rich QoS, and programmable forwarding. 

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