Intel pushes data centre tech with Fulcrum buy

Semiconductor giant Intel is continuing to diversify away from the CPU with the acquisition of Ethernet switch specialist Fulcrum for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will see Fulcrum - a 12 year old fabless company which designs semiconductors for 10GbE and 40GbE switches - become a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel's as the chip giant attempts to expand its data centre offerings beyond the system CPU.

"Intel is transforming from a leading server technology company to a comprehensive data centre provider that offers computing, storage and networking building blocks," said Intel's data centre head Kirk Skaugen in a statement regarding the purchase.

"Fulcrum Microsystems' switch silicon, already recognised for high performance and low latency, complements Intel's leading processors and Ethernet controllers and will deliver our customers new levels of performance and energy efficiency while improving their economics of cloud service delivery," he added.

Intel already produces a range of network connectivity devices, including a widely used range of gigabit Ethernet products, and has worked with high-performance 10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet connectivity in the past, with products such as the Centellis 440 ATCA 40GbE Platform Core produced by its partner Emerson Network Power.

The purchase of Fulcrum takes Intel's networking offerings to the next level with both in-system and dedicated switching products, and gives the fabless networking specialist access to Intel's foundries for on-site chip production.

The acquisition comes shortly after Skaugen announced a renewed interest in the supercomputing and high-performance computing market for Intel at the International Supercomputing Conference. At the event, Skaugen unveiled redesigned Knights Ferry PCI Express accelerator boards, but cluster computing systems require high-performance interconnects of the sort in which Fulcrum specialises.

The deal is expected to complete in the third quarter of this year, pending the usual regulatory approval and finalisation by Fulcrum shareholders.