AMD to buy John Chambers’ Pensando For US$1.9b

AMD is acquiring edge and cloud startup Pensando for US$1.9 billion in a move to take its processors inside data centres to the next level by leveraging the startup’s unique software stack and programmable packet processors.

“With our acquisition of Pensando, we add a leading distributed services platform to our high-performance CPU, GPU, FPGA and adaptive SoC portfolio,” said AMD Chairman and CEO Lisa Su, in a statement.

“All major cloud and OEM customers have adopted EPYC processors to power their data centre offerings. The Pensando team brings world-class expertise and a proven track record of innovation at the chip, software and platform level, which expands our ability to offer leadership solutions for our cloud, enterprise and edge customers.”

Pensando is led by an all-star team including former Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, who is the company’s chairman and founder, as well as CEO Prem Jain.

Chambers said industry leadership is based on “catching business model disruptions” enabled by new technologies.

“Pensando is built upon strong customer relationships and a solution that is at least two years ahead in cloud, edge and enterprise,” he said in a statement. “For example, the performance and scale of Pensando’s distributed services platform is 8X to 13X of the largest cloud provider and uses less power. Pensando’s smart switching architecture has 100X the scale, 10X the performance at one-third the cost of ownership of any comparable products in the enterprise market.”

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

Who is Pensando and what does it bring to AMD?

Emerging from stealth mode in 2019 with plans to take on Amazon Web Services, Pensando’s system is based on a custom programmable processor optimized for edge computing.

The company recently raised US$35 million in a Series C funding round, bringing the startup’s total raised to US$313 million. Pensando’s products are already deployed at scale across cloud and enterprise customers, including Goldman Sachs, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

The offering is powering software-defined cloud, compute, networking, storage and security services aiming to transform existing architectures into secure and fast environments that are being required by next-generation applications.

The startup’s distributed services platform includes a high-performance, fully programmable packet processor and comprehensive software stack that accelerate networking, security, storage and other services for cloud, enterprise and edge applications. Pensando’s packet processor can be distributed throughout a network to efficiently accelerate multiple infrastructure services simultaneously, offloading workloads from the CPU and increasing overall system performance.

Jain said Pensando has assembled a best-in-class engineering team that are experts in building systems together with a deep ecosystem of partners and customers who have currently deployed over 100,000 Pensando platforms into production.

“Our shared cultures of innovation, excellence and relentless focus on partners and customers make this an ideal combination,” said Jain in a statement. “Together, we have the talent and tools to deliver on our customers’ vision for the future of computing. … Joining together with AMD will help accelerate growth in our core business and enable us to pursue a much larger customer base across more markets.”

AMD’s Su said to build a leading-edge data centre with the best performance, security, flexibility and lowest total cost of ownership requires a wide range of compute engines such as Pensando.

CEO Jain and the Pensando team will join AMD as part of the Data Center Solutions Group, led by AMD Senior Vice President and General Manager Forrest Norrod.

AMD is reassuring customers that Pensando will remain focused on executing its product and technology road maps, but will now have additional scale to accelerate its business and address growing market opportunities across a broader number of customers.

“Pensando’s leadership position in software-defined cloud, compute, networking, security and storage services as part of the much larger AMD portfolio is in my opinion a perfect fit to shape the data center computing landscape for the next decade,” said Chambers.

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