Intel's Schooler: Axxia buy will boost 'common architecture approach' to networks

Intel's acquisition of LSI's Axxia Networking Business, a provider of system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for network infrastructure, will be a crucial driver in the development of Intel's wireless-access-networking strategy and its long-term goal of running critical network workloads on a single architecture, said Rose Schooler, general manager of Intel's communications-infrastructure division.

intel Rose Schooler

Schooler

"The acquisition of the Axxia Networking Business will further help Intel realize our vision of transforming wireless access into an intelligent, flexible network based on standard building blocks to fuel innovation and increase network efficiencies," said Schooler in a blog post.

LSI's Axxia Networking Business is being divested from Avago following the recent completion of Avago Technologies' acquisition of LSI. Intel will acquire Axxis and related assets for $650 million in cash in a transaction that is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Schooler explained that Intel believes running application, control, data and signal processing on a single architecture is key to reducing development complexity and risk. It also will enable Intel to offer scalable technology at many different price, power and performance points.

She noted that Intel's communications- and storage-infrastructure group, which is part of the chipmaker's data-center group, has spent years creating Intel-based platforms that handle the workloads simultaneously on networking elements, including wireless base stations. The Axxia acquisition brings Intel a "compelling product line and talented team to continue to deliver on this long-term vision," Schooler wrote.

The Axxia Networking Business generated revenues of $113 million in 2013 and employs some 650 people.

Axxia also gives Intel a strong software-defined networking (SDN) play. For example, the LSI Axxia 4500 communications processor, introduced in November 2013, features a deep-packet inspection (DPI) engine designed to deliver SDN controller traffic inspection, efficiency of network management, quality of service, security and other network functions. The device is ARM-technology-based.

Further, as FierceEnterpriseCommunications noted, an LSI white paper (PDF) detailed how Axxia's intelligent silicon could be used to address some of the complexities inherent in early SDN rollouts.

"As SDN is deployed, it is inevitable that datacenters will operate with hybrid networks with some OpenFlow and non-OpenFlow traffic," the white paper stated. "It is important for the line cards to evolve towards this hybrid state to support OpenFlow traffic gracefully. LSI proposes utilizing flexible Axxia acceleration engines to solve the hybrid network element both for data plane acceleration in addition to performing intelligent control plane acceleration."

Schooler noted that Intel has been working with equipment manufacturers on server, cloud and virtualization technologies, including using virtualization in the radio access network, which encompasses wireless base stations. "The opportunity here is significant and wireless access is a critical component of the mobile network, which is part of a growing network market segment estimated to represent a $16 billion silicon market segment," she wrote.

For more:
- see this Intel release and blog post
- see this FierceEnterpriseCommunications article

Related articles:
Intel exec sees AT&T as potential partner in network infrastructure chip market
Intel plans push to get its chips into networking equipment
Intel establishing SDN beachhead with reference designs

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