AMD Scoops Up Pensando To Expand Data Center Processing Solutions

April 06, 2022 by Jake Hertz

Hoping to keep the momentum rolling for data center processing, AMD has set its sights on acquiring Pensando for its portfolio of data center processing solutions.

The data center hardware market is vast, with many of the industry’s top companies competing for share. 

One of the major players in this space is AMD, whose EPYC CPU (central processing unit) is considered one of the best in the industry. 


An example of AMD's 3rd Gen EPYC CPU architecture. Image used courtesy of AMD


Hoping to further those goals, AMD wants to expand its data center supremacy by adding additional technologies and services to its portfolio. This week, AMD made headlines when it announced its $1.9B acquisition of Pensando, a company best known for its distributed services platform. 

In this article, we’ll look at Pensando’s platform and what AMD hopes to get out of this acquisition.


Pensando’s Platform

According to AMD, Pensando can be considered a leading distributed services provider with expertise reaching the silicon, software, and platform level. 

More specifically, Pensando is best known for its distributed services platform (DSP), of which the major tenants are a packet processor, a distributed services card (DSC), and a policy and services manager (PSM).


Pensando's DSC architecture.

Pensando's DSC architecture. Image used courtesy of Pensando


Pensando states that the very heart of its entire platform is its Pensando Custom P4 Programmable Processor. 

Designed to accelerate infrastructure tasks such as packet processing, the P4 Programmable Processor is meant to be implemented in a distributed network. In this implementation, designers can use the processor to offload infrastructure workloads from the CPU and provide acceleration of multiple infrastructure services simultaneously.  

Additionally, the processor claims to have been optimized for cloud, network, and security optimizations and can provide a power consumption as low as ~30 W at 100 GHz. 

Accompanying the P4 programmable processor is Pensando’s custom DSC. Pensando’s DSC aims to provide separation between compute instances and cloud infrastructure functions so that services can be managed and more efficiently deployed at the edge. 

The DSC offers various software-defined services at the server edge, including integrated security, networking, and storage. Additionally, the hardware features hardware bi-directional flow streaming and traffic mirroring capabilities to allow for detailed network visibility, managing up to 100K+ flows and >1 M routes.


A Pensando DSC-100 PCIe card.

A Pensando DSC-100 PCIe card. Image used courtesy of Pensando


Finally, Pensando’s platform offers a PSM, a distributed system that delivers network and security policy to their DSCs at the edge. The PSM rounds out the platform by providing lifecycle management, security, and visibility at each level of its software stack. 

Specifically, the PSM offers always-on telemetry, which enables detailed observability of the system across the entire environment.


AMD Acquires Pensando

Impressed by Pensando's platforms and services, AMD has announced its acquisition of Pensando for a total of $1.9B, which is anticipated to close in the second quarter of 2022, pending approval under antitrust evaluations.

With the acquisition, AMD aims to expand its portfolio to include Pesnadnos' DSP, a strategic move that it hopes will result in greater scalability and performance for its data center solutions. 

According to Pensando, its DSP can achieve up to 13x competitors' performance while at a lower power budget, a value proposition that could significantly bolster AMD's competitive advantage in the market. 

From Pensando's side of the deal, it hopes that teaming up with AMD will provide it with the funds and resources necessary to accelerate its growth and allow it to pursue a larger customer base. 

Overall, this acquisition appears to be a win-win for both companies.