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The $35B AMD-Xilinx Acquisition: 7 Big Things To Know

AMD gets a mega chip deal of its own, which could mean greater competition with Intel on 5G network infrastructure and with Nvidia on SmartNICs. CRN dives into the details of the Xilinx deal and what it could mean for the data center and telecom markets, among other things.

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How Xilinx Will Complement And Expand AMD’s Product Portfolio

AMD is primarily in the business of selling CPUs and GPUs for client computers, servers and embedded systems while also making custom system-on-chip solutions for devices like Sony’s PlayStation 5.

With the Xilinx acquisition, AMD will expand its product portfolio to include reprogrammable chips called field-programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs. These chips made by Xilinx serve as the basis for a variety of products that target several markets, including ones in which AMD has a small footprint in, like telecom, edge, industrial and networking.

Xilinx has been pursuing the data center market more aggressively in the past couple years through a new “data center first” initiative. The main products its pushing in this area is a lineup of Alveo accelerator cards, which launched in 2018 to provide “adaptable” high performance for applications ranging from storage and data analytics to machine learning and streaming video.

Xilinx is also in the SmartNIC market, thanks to its 2019 acquisition of network interface card Solarflare Communications. The company’s current SmartNIC offering is part of its Alveo card lineup, the Alveo U25, which the company says provides “ultra-high throughput, small packet performance and low-latency,” with the ability to improve cloud-based applications by up to 400 percent.

With this expansion in the portfolio, AMD will have new ways to compete against Intel, which has its own portfolio of FPGAs, FPGA-based accelerator cards and FPGA-based SmartNICs, thanks to the semiconductor giant’s 2015 acquisition of Altera. AMD will also increase its competition against Nvidia, which recently announced plans to sell SmartNIC products it refers to as data processing units, or DPUs.

“AMD will offer the strongest portfolio of high performance and adaptive computing products in the industry, spanning leadership CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, and Adaptive SOCs,” AMD CEO Lisa Su said on the earnings call. “This will enable us to take a leadership position accelerating a diverse set of emerging workloads, from AI to smart networking and software-defined infrastructure.”

Su said Xilinx’s underlying technology will also be a boon for AMD.

“Beyond their core innovation in FPGAs and associated software design environments, they have industry-leading capabilities in SOC design, SerDes and high-speed I/O, mixed signal RF, advanced 2.5 and 3D silicon integration and packaging as well as targeted software stacks for key verticals,” she said.

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