Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, December 3, 2022

Xilinx–SolarFlare Deal Closes, Combines FPGAs, High Performance Networks 

In a year of major M&A activity in the high performance technology sector, Xilinx announced today the closing of its acquisition of low latency network provider SolarFlare, whose speedy network interface card (NIC) technology is widely used by financial services and hyperscalers.

When the planned acquisition was announced in April, Xilinx said the acquisition would help the company to combine its FPGA, MPSoC and ACAP solutions with Solarflare NICs and Onload application acceleration software to enable new converged SmartNIC solutions, “accelerating Xilinx's ‘data center first’ strategy and transition to a platform company,” according to Xilinx.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a blog today, Xilinx said  Solarflare’s networking technology and team will become part of Xilinx’s Data Center Group. Integration of the two companies’ technologies, “converged SmartNIC solutions,” will enable customers “to run network, storage and compute acceleration directly on a network interface card, eliminating the need to run these workloads on servers.” Xilinx said it will also integrate Solarflare networking into its Alveo portfolio of adaptable accelerator cards for data center workloads.

The Xilinx move mirrors Nvidia’s $6.9 billion purchase in March of high performance network maker Mellanox. In fact, Xilinx was among the companies rumored to have been courting Mellanox last year and this.

“Both Xilinx and Nvidia see the need for high bandwidth, low latency interconnects in the data center,” Karl Freund, senior analyst HPC and deep learning, Moor Insights & Strategy, told us when the deal was announced, “and want to explore tighter integration with their respective platforms to optimize the solution at the rack level and even higher. Nvidia goes up the stack when doing so, accelerates time to market for optimized solutions like DGX and NVSwitch. Both companies want to expand their role as a platform provider as they can add more value and become even more competitive.”

Xilinx and Solarflare have collaborated on advanced networking technology for the last two years, with Xilinx becoming a strategic investor in 2017. The two companies recently demonstrated their first joint solution – a single-chip FPGA-based 100G SmartNIC, processing 100 million packets per-second receive and transmit, at less than 75 watts, according to Xilinx.

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