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QLogic Nabs SilverStorm

QLogic moved further into the InfiniBand space late Tuesday with the acquisition of SilverStorm Technologies.

The move is a blow for rival InfiniBand chipmaker Mellanox, which filed for an initial public offering late last week and counted SilverStorm as a top four customer, accounting for about 10 percent of sales.

QLogic, long a leader with Emulex in the Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) space, moved into the InfiniBand market earlier this year with the acquisition of PathScale.

The $60 million cash acquisition of SilverStorm — formerly known as InfiniCon — adds InfiniBand switches and directors to QLogic's lineup of Fibre Channel and iSCSI switches and HBAs and InfiniBand host channel adapters (HCAs).

Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO, said the acquisition could be aimed at Mellanox "in terms of pressuring a competitor, or Cisco in terms of becoming closer aligned as supplier to a partner."

QLogic's focus has become virtualized data center environments and "network-centric tiered storage," compared to Emulex's traditional storage approach, Schulz said.

"InfiniBand is a good technology to address various needs," he said, "but the question remains how viable InfiniBand can be moving forward, given the potential cost advantages of 10Gb (and faster) Ethernet," said Schulz. "I see this coming down more and more to a Cisco (network-centric) and Intel (server-centric) discussion focused around application and management enablement as opposed to an interface (Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, SAS/SATA) speeds and feeds debate."

The deal has been approved by the board of directors of both companies and is expected to close soon. QLogic plans to provide further details on the acquisition on its October 24 earnings conference call.

"The acquisition of SilverStorm builds on our portfolio of InfiniBand connectivity technology which will provide our customers with a leading edge, end-to-end solution," QLogic CEO H.K. Desai said in a statement. "This is a rapidly emerging market and having a known and trusted supplier of infrastructure connectivity products delivering an end-to-end solution will accelerate the ability of our OEM and channel partners to bring their system-level solutions to market."

QLogic said SilverStorm "provides end-to-end, high-performance interconnect fabric solutions for cluster and grid computing networks," with products that "address the unique performance and I/O requirements of enterprise-class servers, blade servers and storage devices as data center architecture building blocks."

Once hyped as the interconnect of the future, InfiniBand has been quietly catching on in the last couple of years, thanks in part to the introduction of PCI-X and PCI Express (see InfiniBand: Is This Time for Real?).

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