Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) took a big step toward competing in data centre networking with its announced agreement to acquire Pensando for approximately US$1.9 billion.
AMD wants the DPU-based architecture and technology Pensando is developing that includes intelligent, programmable software to support software-defined cloud, compute, networking, storage, and security services that could be rolled out quickly in edge, colocation, or service-provider networks.
“There are a wide range of use cases — such as 5G and Internet of Things [IoT] — that need to support lots of low latency traffic,” Soni Jiandani, Pensando co-founder and chief business office told Network World last November. "We’ve taken a ground-up approach to giving enterprise customers a fully programmable system with the ability to support multiple infrastructure services without dedicated CPUs."
AMD envisions Pensando’s technology as a way to compete in data centre networking as Pensando’s products are already deployed across cloud and enterprise customers, including Goldman Sachs, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud, AMD stated.
Its technology is a key component Aruba’s data centre switch, the Aruba CX 10000. That switch includes an integrated Pensando DPU that reduces the need for separate security and load-balancing appliances.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is a big investor in Pensando having been part of its $145 million Series C funding in 2019 along with Lightspeed Venture Partners. HPE, too, has implemented the Pensando technology in some of its server line.
“HPE was an early partner of Pensando because we shared the vision that the world would become far more distributed, and that enterprises would need edge-to-cloud architectures to accelerate their insights and outcomes,” said Antonio Neri, president and CEO, HPE, in a statement. “We look forward to accelerating the development of these technologies with our long-standing partner AMD, whom we congratulate on this strategic acquisition.”
Pensando is also part of VMware’s Project Monterey, which melds bare-metal servers, GPUs, FPGAs, NICs, and security into a large-scale virtualised environment.
The company is entering a hot DPU market as a number of key players including Intel, Nvidia, Amazon Web Services (AWS) are looking to develop smartNIC architectures.
Pensando is lead by a circle of ex-Cisco stars, including its chairmen of the board, former Cisco CEO John Chambers, Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Jiandani. The latter four have founded a number of companies that were spun back into Cisco during Chamber’s time as CEO including Andiamo Systems for SAN switching, Nuova Systems for data centre switching and Insieme Networks for software-defined networking systems.
Company CEO Jain and the Pensando team will join AMD as part of its Data Center Solutions Group, led by AMD senior vice president and general manager Forrest Norrod. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.