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Why is Intel buying Barefoot Networks?


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Intel, the largest computer chipmaker in the US, is buying out tech start-up Barefoot Networks as it looks to break into the networking-chip technology space, a domain primarily controlled by rival, Broadcom.

Barefoot Networks, founded in 2016, manufactures programmable chips that allow clients like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to program whatever functionality they need on to the networking chip, unlike the other chipsets that are designed and customised for specific purposes.

By agreeing to purchase Barefoot Technologies, Intel is aiming to claim lost ground after trailing behind GPU manufacturers whose superior chipsets are in high demand in the gaming, graphics and the AI industry. The acquisition would lead Intel to produce processors for Ethernet switches and networking gear, something that the company does not do so currently, and would place it amid chip majors like NVidia and Broadcom.

In a blog post on June 10th, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel Corp. said that the acquisition of Barefoot would support Intel’s focus on delivering end to end cloud networking and infrastructure leadership. Although Intel has not disclosed the value of the purchase, the deal is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of this year.

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