Cisco snags Exablaze to target low-latency applications

Cisco is buying Australia-based Exablaze to offer FPGAs and NICs that help enable low-latency applications. (Monica Alleven/FierceWireless)

Following on the heels of last week's "Internet for the Future" announcement that included the news that Cisco is developing its own silicon, Cisco announced on Monday that it is buying Exablaze to better enable low latency applications.

Australia-based Exablaze, which designs network devices and field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology, will be integrated into Cisco's Nexus switching portfolio when the deal closes in the third quarter of next year. Financial terms of the deal weren't available.

“Cisco looks to have gone all in on customized chip development," said Scott Raynovich, founder and chief analyst of Futuriom. "This is a very interesting commitment to their new business model.”


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The addition of Exablaze to Cisco's Nexus switching portfolio compliments its existing switching technology with FPGA-based Layer 1 capable switches and low-latency network interface cards (NICs.)

Adding Exablaze to its switching stable also gives Cisco the ability to target customers that use high-frequency trading, financial services, high-performance computing and emerging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) clusters, according to a blog post by Cisco's Rob Salvagno, vice president of cooperate development and Cisco Investments.

"In the case of the high frequency trading sector, every sliver of time matters," Salvagno said. "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."

In addition to the FPGA-based switches and NICs, Exablaze, under its Exalink branding, also brings picosecond resolution and timing technology and FPGA-based terminal access point (TAP) aggregation packet technology to Cisco's switching portfolio.

Salvagno said the deal to buy Exablaze, which was founded in 2013, was a part of its intent-based networking strategy. Cisco introduced intent-based networking with the launch of its DNA Center in 2017, and has since integrated it across the company's portfolio.

RELATED: Cisco makes a bold play in the silicon space, bows new router series

Cisco has invested heavily in software, optics and silicon over the past five years, which led to last week's announcement of its Silicon One chip, new IOS XR7 operating system, and a new 8000 series router.

The Internet for the Future platform was based on past Cisco deals, such as the $2.6 billion acquisitions of coherent optics company Acacia Communications, which was announced in July and is expected to close early next year. Acacia has three product categories—pluggable modules, semiconductors and embedded modules—that are in Cisco's Optical Systems and Optics division.

RELATED: Cisco's Acacia deal disrupts optical, routing markets

The Acacia deal fit with Cisco's previous acquisitions of CoreOptics, Luxtera and Lightwire on the silicon photonics side. On the ASIC side, Cisco bought Leaba in 2016. Acacia rounds out those previous investments by bringing components, modules and digital signal processors (DSPs) for optical subsystems within switches, routers and optical networking gear.

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