Micron buys Virtensys for PCIe technology

SSD and memory specialist Micron has acquired Manchester-based Virtensys for an undisclosed sum, gaining a swathe of intellectual property relating to PCIe device sharing

Storage specialist Micron is buying Manchester-based PCIe specialist Virtensys.

Virtensys product

Micron has acquired Manchester-based Virtensys, a specialist in products that enable PCIe device sharing. Image credit: Virtensys

The acquisition was announced on Thursday and should see all Virtensys staff transfer to Micron, Virtensys's chief executive, John Nicholson, told ZDNet UK. Virtensys's UK offices will remain open, he said. The deal, details of which remain secret, is expected to close by the end of the month.

"The [Virtensys] technology, which is backed by significant amounts of IP, is in PCIe device sharing," Nicholson said. "What we do is make sure the scarce PCIe resources, like flash or SSDs, can be genuinely shared across multiple servers."

Virtensys's technology lets servers share their PCIe-linked peripherals, such as SSDs, RAID controllers, PCIe-linked SSD adapters, 10GbE network interface cards (NICS) and host bus adapters (HBAs), with one another, by virtualising network and storage connectivity. By sharing I/O components, administrators can make their servers more efficient, Nicholson said.

It can also make server I/O management easier as it breaks the link between individual servers and their I/O adapters by centralising the I/O components onto a PCIe Sharing Appliance, from which they can be centrally managed.

"'Virtensys's PCIe-sharing technology has helped change the way datacentre operators manage and deploy their virtualised I/O resources, and Micron's enterprise PCIe drive delivers market-leading speed, reliability and power efficiency," Edward Doller, Micron's chief memory systems architect, said in a statement. "This agreement would enable a combination of enterprise technology solutions that have the opportunity to virtualise SSD storage on the path to a more flexible and dynamic datacentre."

As for the future, Nicholson said PCIe will be around as an industry standard "for a long time" and "you can expect to see a [technical] roadmap, post the acquisition".

Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, already makes a variety of products that connect to servers via PCIe. Virtensys technology allows these products to be consolidated into a single server chassis, and shared back to servers.

One area of the storage industry that is drawing a lot of money and press attention is PCIe-linked flash, which is seen by companies ranging from Facebook to Apple as a good way of adding very fast storage to servers. The primary companies in this area are Fusion-io and OCZ, although Micron announced its own PCI flash card in June. With the Virtensys technology, Micron has gained a way of virtualising the storage layer of any PCIe-linked peripheral and sharing it back to fleets of servers.

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