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Broadcom offloads $76m for Ethernet dynamo

TCP/IP, iSCSI, iWarp, iWhatever

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Broadcom bought a little bit of its future on Tuesday, acquiring networking chip start-up Siliquent Technologies.

The $76m cash deal, expected to close by October, gives Broadcom one of the more interesting offloaders. Siliquent specializes in designing Ethernet chips that can handle different types of data such as TCP/IP, iSCSI and iWarp traffic. Theoretically, these chips should improve the flow of large chunks of data across Ethernet-based storage systems, blade servers and server clusters.

In particular, Broadcom touted the ways Siliquent could add to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) NICs.

"With 10GbE being the next frontier for enterprise networks, our acquisition of Siliquent provides technology that enables Broadcom to deliver TCP/IP offload, iSCSI and RDMA capabilities on a single-chip, 10GbE controller," said Greg Young, a vice president at Broadcom. "10GbE completes our C-NIC (converged-NIC) vision and levels the performance playing field against competitive network fabrics such as Infiniband and Fibre Channel, enabling Broadcom to unify the data center around a single ubiquitous, standards-based Ethernet fabric that delivers higher levels of performance and improved network communications."

Register readers likely stand as the last people who need to be told about Ethernet's surprising longevity. Just when the big vendors would like to cram Infiniband down your throats, 10GbE starts looking like a success. This acquisition will help Broadcom's push to keep Ethernet thriving and build on its economical past.

A few start-ups have already pushed the offloading idea, particularly in the TCP/IP realm with moderate success. Larger players such as Intel and Sun Microsystems look to build some offloading functions in their future multicore CPUs, helping blur the line as to when a specialized networking chip will be needed.

You can check out Siliquent's gear here

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