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Nvidia Plans To Buy Cumulus Networks In Networking Software Play

The chipmaker's plan to acquire Cumulus Networks signals that its data center networking ambitions aren't ending with Mellanox. 'The ability to innovate across the entire technology stack will help us deliver performance at scale for the accelerated, software-defined data center,' an Nvidia executive says.

Nvidia said it plans to acquire Cumulus Networks, signaling that the GPU powerhouse's data center networking ambitions aren't ending with its recently closed acquisition of Mellanox Technologies.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced its intention to acquire Cumulus Networks, a provider of open networking software, Monday, saying that the move will allow the chipmaker to "innovate and optimize across the entire networking stack from chips and system to software."

[Related: Nvidia, AMD Join Cloud Giants To Fight COVID-19 With HPC Might]

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Amit Katz, a Mellanox executive who is now vice president of Ethernet switch at Nvidia, said in a blog post that the deal will enable "a new era of accelerated, software-defined data center" as cloud service providers seek more simplicity in networking infrastructure.

"Nvidia's approach to creating both the hardware and software for accelerated computing expands deeper into networking software with Cumulus," he said. "The ability to innovate across the entire technology stack will help us deliver performance at scale for the accelerated, software-defined data center."

Mellanox and Cumulus Networks had already been collaborating as part of the high-speed interconnect vendor's open Ethernet strategy that was formed in 2013, according to Katz. For instance, Mellanox's Spectrum Ethernet switches already ship with Cumulus Networks' Linux-based operating system. In addition, Cumulus Networks' Open Network Install Environment serves as the foundation for Mellanox's bare-metal switches. The company also collaborated with Cumulus Networks on DENT, a distributed Linux framework for edge applications.

Nvidia's $7 billion acquisition of Mellanox closed last week, which Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said would aid the company in the data center market's transition from hyperconverged infrastructure to "accelerated-disaggregated infrastructure" that is required to support artificial intelligence workloads.

"Nvidia and Mellanox are at the epicenter of this shift," he said in a letter to employees.

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