Intel takes up Barefoot at an undisclosed amount providing an opening for Intel to stake more claims in the networking space after losing ground to the GPU manufacturers whose chipsets have been in demand since the rise of gaming, graphics, and artificial intelligence made them ascendant.
Barefoot Networks’ specialty is an Ethernet switch silicon that is programmable for public cloud deployments. Intel bets that Barefoot Networks, which competes with Broadcom, will help it target hyperscale and networking customers. Intel’s purchase comes after Nvidia acquired Mellanox.
The acquisition, which was announced late Monday by Intel Executive Vice President Navin Shenoy (pictured, second from left), is designed to help the chipmaker better compete with its rival Broadcom Inc.
Intel is the largest U.S. maker of computer chips for data centers, but its silicon is unable to efficiently manage communications via Ethernet, which is a widely used technology for connecting networks of computers and servers. Instead, Broadcom is the leading Ethernet chip player in town. But Intel believes it can change that by buying up one of its smaller rivals.
Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Barefoot Networks was launched from stealth in late 2016 by Dr. Craig Barratt, a former Stanford University professor whose work was critical to the development of the networking architectures that allowed Alphabet, Facebook, and others to operate at the massive scale they now have. To move more information around, Intel needs to build more advanced data center interconnects, and that’s where Barefoot Networks comes in.
This is good to see as Broadcom needs some competition. Broadcom switch chip silicon prices are high enough that Intel could play a disruptor.