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Xilinx closes SolarFlare purchase, promises high-performance networking

News Analysis
Aug 02, 20192 mins
Network Management SoftwareNetworking

Xilinix's purchase of SolarFlare is part of the company's strategy to offer a full network and compute platform for the data center.

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Network acceleration appears to be all the rage these days, what with Nvidia acquiring Mellanox, the advent of High Bandwidth Memory 2E targeting networking chips, and now Xilinx closing of its acquisition of low-latency network provider SolarFlare.

SolarFlare makes a high-speed network interface card (NIC) using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to build SmartNICs sold under the X2 brand. These PCI Express network interface cards run network, storage, and compute acceleration, offloading that work from the CPU. SolarFlare also develops application acceleration software to fully utilize the cards.

When the acquisition was announced in April, Xilinx said the plan was to combine its FPGA, Multi-Processor System on a Chip (MPSoC) and its Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform (ACAP) products with Solarflare NICs and Onload application acceleration software to enable new converged SmartNIC solutions.

With the deal closed, Xilinx said that remains the plan, with Solarflare’s networking team becoming a part of Xilinx’s Data Center Group, and the integrated company will deliver new products.

“The new class of software and hardware adaptable SmartNICs developed as a result of the combined companies will be able to run network, storage, and compute acceleration directly on a network interface card, eliminating the need to run these workloads on servers,” the company said in a blog post announcing closure of the deal.

Xilinx will also integrate Solarflare networking technology into its Alveo portfolio of adaptable accelerator cards for critical data center workloads.

Earlier this year, the two companies demonstrated a single-chip FPGA-based 100Gb SmartNIC, processing 100 million packets per-second receive and transmit, all at less than 75 watts. The two companies have a relationship going back to 2017 when Xilinx became a strategic investor in SolarFlare.

“Solarflare has been a pioneer in key areas such as high-speed Ethernet, application acceleration, and NVMe-over-Fabrics, which are the critical components needed to build the next generation of SmartNICs for cloud and enterprise technologies,” said Salil Raje, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Xilinx, in a statement when the acquisition was announced.

At the time it was announced, Xilinx said the deal is part of its “data center first” strategy to transform it from a just a FPGA chip vendor into a platform company in the hopes of competing with Intel, AMD, Nvidia and ARM.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.