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QLogic broadens Ethernet technology with Broadcom assets

QLogic’s acquisition of Ethernet controller assets from Broadcom this week won’t have much immediate effect on storage, but it could become important in a few years.

The $147 million deal will give QLogic 40-gigabit and 100-gigabit Ethernet, RDMA and virtualization technologies it currently lacks. QLogic also gets about 170 engineers in the deal, and claims the Broadcom portfolio makes it No. 2 in the Ethernet controller market behind Intel.

What makes the deal interesting is QLogic’s long-term roadmap. During a conference call to explain the deal, QLogic executives laid out plans to add services such as caching, replication, deduplication, encryption and monitoring on converged Ethernet-Fibre Channel controllers. That would turn QLogic from a network connectivity vendor to a platform vendor.

The first step is to port the Mt. Rainier caching technology used on QLogic’s Fabric Cache FC host bus adapters to Ethernet cards. FabricCache serves as a caching SAN adapter. A Cluster of FabricCache cards can access all the combined caches in that cluster.

The other features on QLogic’s roadmap – all important in storage and data protection – will follow. The process will likely take at least three years to complete the entire list, and a lot can happen in that time. One thing that can happen is features like replication, dedupe and encryption will already be common in storage products by then.

Vikram Karvat, QLogic VP of marketing, admitted those features are likely to be built into high-end storage arrays by then, but he said they will fit into other platforms.

“Some things that are considered high-end features are migrating into other markets, such as private or public clouds, or appliances,” he said. “This will allow non-traditional providers to add them.”

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