How Cumulus Fits into Nvidia’s Data Center Play

Nvidia is doubling down on data center networking technology.

Earlier this month, it announced acquisition of the networking software company Cumulus Networks – a move that will give the GPU maker further inroads into the data center market, analysts say.

The announcement came one week after Nvidia closed its $7 billion acquisition of Mellanox, the leading maker of low-latency, high-bandwidth interconnect technology that moves data between processors, memory, storage devices, servers, and entire data centers.

Mellanox’s networking hardware on hand, Nvidia now adds Cumulus’s networking software: Cumulus Linux, a popular open network operating system that runs data center network switches, and the NetQ tool, which allows IT staff to proactively monitor network health and quickly troubleshoot problems.

Overall, Cumulus claims to have more than 2,000 customers globally, including 17 of the Fortune 50 companies.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“It’s a move Nvidia felt it had to make after investing in Mellanox,” Brad Casemore, IDC’s research VP for data center networks, told DCK. “They want to see a return on investment over time, and I think they felt having a turnkey solution with software that runs on the switches would help them expedite that ROI.”

Nvidia, best known for its graphics processors, which power video games, cryptocurrency mining, supercomputers, and deep neural networks, wants to strengthen its growing data center business and dominate the AI hardware market. Mellanox and Cumulus help the cause. Its data center business currently makes up about one-third of Nvidia’s revenue.

Cumulus and Mellanox have been partners for four years, and the latter supports the former’s software. Mellanox Spectrum Ethernet switches run…

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