$ 6.9 billion deal: why does a GPU developer buy network equipment manufacturer

$ 6.9 billion deal: why does a GPU developer buy network equipment manufacturer

Quite recently, Nvidia and Mellanox completed the transaction. We talk about the prerequisites and consequences.

Photos - Cecetay - CC BY-SA 4.0

What a deal

Mellanox has been active since 1999. Today, it is represented by offices in the United States and Israel, but operates on a fabless model — it does not have its own production and places orders at third-party enterprises, for example, TSMC . Mellanox produces adapters and switches for high-speed networks based on Ethernet and high-speed protocols InfiniBand .

One of the prerequisites for the transaction is the general interest of companies in the direction of high performance computing (HPC). So the two most powerful supercomputers in the world, Sierra and Summit, use Mellanox and Nvidia solutions.

Companies also collaborate on other developments - for example, Mellanox adapters are installed in the DGX-2 server for deep learning tasks.

Photos - Carlos Jones CC CC 2.0

The second significant argument in favor of the deal is Nvidia’s desire to outrun a potential competitor, Intel. The California IT giant is similarly involved in work on supercomputers and other HPC solutions, which in one way or another contrasts it with Nvidia. It turned out that it was in Nvidia that they decided to take the initiative in the struggle for leadership in this market segment and were the first to enter into a deal with Mellanox.

What will it affect

New Solutions . High-performance computing in areas such as biology, physics, meteorology, and others. Every year they become more and more demanding and operate with increasingly significant amounts of data. It can be assumed that the cooperation of the Nvidia and Mellanox teams will first of all give the market new solutions that will be related not only to hardware, but also to the segment of specialized software for HPC systems.

Product Integration . Such transactions often allow companies to optimize operating expenses by reducing the number of employees and improving the overall efficiency of business processes. In this case, one can only assume that this will be the case, but what is very likely is the integration of Nvidia and Mellanox solutions in “boxed” formats. On the one hand, this is an opportunity for customers to get fast results and ready-made technologies for solving problems here and now. On the other hand, there is a potential movement towards limiting the customization of a number of components, which not everyone can like.

East-west traffic optimization . Due to the general trend in the growth of the processed data, the problem of the so-called " east-west " traffic is becoming more acute. This is actually a “bottleneck” of the data center, which slows down the work of the entire infrastructure, including the solution of deep learning tasks. The combined efforts of the company have all the chances for new developments in this area. By the way, Nvidia and earlier paid attention to the optimization of data transfer between the GPU and at one time introduced the specialized technology NVLink .

What else is happening in the market

Some time after the announcement of the Nvidia and Mellanox deal, other manufacturers of data center equipment, Xilinx and Solarflare, announced similar plans. One of the main goals of the first is to expand the range of use of FPGA (FPGA) for HPC. The second is optimizing the latency of server-based network solutions and is using FPGA chips in its SmartNICS cards. As in the case of Nvidia and Mellanox, this transaction was preceded by team collaboration and work on joint products.

Photos - Raimond Spekking - CC BY-SA 4.0
Another big deal is the purchase of HPE startup BlueData. The latter was founded by former VMware employees and developed a software platform for "containerized" deployment of neural networks in the data center. HPE plans to integrate start-up technologies into its platforms and increase the availability of solutions for working with AI and MO systems.

It is expected that through such transactions we will see new products for the data center, which one way or another should affect the efficiency of solving customer problems.

UPD: According to data of a number of publications one of the shareholders of Mellanox is filing a claim for misinformation in the course of submitting financial statements before carrying out the transaction.

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