AMD grabs DPU maker Pensando for a cool $1.9B

AMD wants the DPU-based architecture and technology that Pensando is developing and that could be instrumental in smartNICs.

data center

Advanced Micro Devices took a big step toward competing in data-center networking with its announced agreement to acquire Pensando for approximately $1.9 billion.   

AMD wants the DPU-based architecture and technology Pensando is developing that includes intelligent, programmable software to support software-defined cloud, compute, networking, storage, and security services that could be rolled out quickly in edge, colocation, or service-provider networks.

“There are a wide range of use cases—such as 5G and IoT—that need to support lots of low latency traffic,” Soni Jiandani, Pensando co-founder and chief business office told Network World last November:“We’ve taken a ground-up approach to giving enterprise customers a fully programmable system with the ability to support multiple infrastructure services without dedicated CPUs.”

AMD envisions Pensando’s technology as a way to compete in data-center networking as Pensando’s products are already deployed across cloud and enterprise customers, including Goldman Sachs, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud, AMD stated. 

Its technology is a key component in HPE company Aruba’s data-center switch, the Aruba CX 10000. That switch includes an integrated Pensando DPU that reduces the need for separate security and load-balancing appliances. HPE is a big investor in Pensando having been part of its $145 million Series C funding in 2019 along with Lightspeed Venture Partners. HPE, too, has implemented the Pensando technology in some of its server line.

“Hewlett Packard Enterprise was an early partner of Pensando because we shared the vision that the world would become far more distributed, and that enterprises would need edge-to-cloud architectures to accelerate their insights and outcomes,” said Antonio Neri, president and CEO, HPE, in a statement. “We look forward to accelerating the development of these technologies with our long-standing partner AMD, whom we congratulate on this strategic acquisition.”

Pensando is also part of VMware’s Project Monterey, which melds bare-metal servers, GPUs, FPGAs, NICs, and security into a large-scale virtualized environment. 

The company is entering a hot DPU market as a number of key players including Intel, Nvidia, AWS are looking to develop smartNIC architectures.

Pensando is lead by a circle of ex-Cisco stars, including its chairmen of the board, former Cisco CEO John Chambers, Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Jiandani. The latter four have founded a number of companies that were spun back into Cisco during Chamber’s time as CEO including Andiamo Systems for SAN switching, Nuova Systems for data-center switching and Insieme Networks for software-defined networking systems.

CEO Jain and the Pensando team will join AMD as part of its Data Center Solutions Group, led by AMD Senior Vice President and General Manager Forrest Norrod.

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

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