Cisco acquires Australia’s Exablaze in low latency chip drive

Cisco acquires Australia’s Exablaze in low latency chip drive

Ramps up FPGA network tech offering

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Networking giant Cisco has struck a deal to acquire Australian-based network device designer and manufacturer Exablaze in a move to accelerate the development of its “next generation” low latency solutions for intent-based networks.

Established in Australia in 2013, Exablaze is a provider of ultra-low latency networking equipment. It primarily builds field programmable gate array (FPGA)-based network devices designed for a wide range of applications in financial trading, big data analytics, high-performance computing, telecommunications and data centres. 

According to Rob Salvagno, vice president of corporate development and investments at Cisco, integrating Exablaze’s products and technology into the Cisco portfolio will give the vendor’s customers the latest FPGA technology, providing them with additional flexibility and programmability. 

“Network capacity and speed are today’s bread and butter for data intensive, highly transactional-based businesses requiring optimised bandwidth performance in industries and market segments like high-frequency trading (HFT), financial services, high-performance computing, and emerging AI/ML clusters,” Salvagno said in a blog post. “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.

“Cisco is committed to delivering best of breed platforms as the foundation of our Intent-Based Networking strategy. Together, Cisco and Exablaze will accelerate next generation low latency solutions for intent-based networks,” he said. 

Salvagno said that Cisco looks look forward to welcoming the Exablaze team into its ranks upon completion of the acquisition, which is expected in Q3 of FY20.

As noted by sister publication Network World, the Exablaze buy would be Cisco’s sixth acquisition this year but also third in the last 13 months to involve a chip technology.

The Exablaze announcement comes hot on the heels of Cisco’s move to roll out its new Silicon One plan, 8000 Series carrier-class routers and a plan to sell chips to whitebox or hyperscale developers.

As reported by Network World on 12 December, the centerpiece of Cisco’s strategy revolves around 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 8000s feature a new operating system – IOS XR7 that runs the boxes and handles security.

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.

Another component of Silicon One is that it will be available for white-box vendors or hyperscalers developing their own networking systems – one of the few times Cisco has been a merchant silicon vendor in its own right. Its chip technology is typically used just in its own equipment.

“Moore’s law is stalling," wrote Jonathan Davidson senior vice president and general manager of  Cisco Service Provider Networking in a blog about Silicon One, published on 11 December. "While the rest of the industry slows down from the physics of traditional approaches, we have unlocked new dimensions of innovation. 

“By rethinking silicon design entirely, we can deliver industry-leading performance today and create a ‘fast lane’ to the future,” Davidson added.

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