Emulex, one of the leading storage host bus adapter (HBA) suppliers, is to acquire Vixel, a manufacturer of embedded switch ASICs.

Vixel's InSpeed switch on chip ASICs products are aimed at OEMs and are used in storage arrays, tape libraries and NAS appliances.

Emulex, which is one of the top two adapter card suppliers, is to pay $10 a share in cash. The deal has been approved by Vixels board and is expected to complete in November.

Paul Folino, Chairman and CEO of Emulex, said that the move was, "a key objective for the acquisition is to accelerate Emulex's revenue growth by tappinginto the incremental market for embedded storage switching solutions."

Vixel has pioneered the concept of having a switched network inside storage devices, such as drive arrays, to improve performance. The array controller, or NAS head, is enabled to connect to more drives than it would if a shared bus architecture was used. Total device performance goes up. Vixel chips are replacing in-array buses and being used in NAS and tape libraries as well.

Qlogic and Broadcom are competing embedded switch suppliers. Vixel has been growing strongly with double digit growth in each of the last four quarters, fuelled by design wins with thirteen storage OEMs including HP, Network Appliance, Fujitsu, NEC, Apple, Xyratex and BlueArc. And there are multiple new OEM design win announcements pending.

That's a strong roster which Emulex will be glad to add to its set of OEMs. It will be able to offer a stronger set of products to these OEMs. "This transaction serves our customers and strategic partners by allowing us to offer them a more extensive embedded storage networking solution set that addresses their critical needs for performance, scalability and reliability," is how Folino puts it.

Emulex is already the world's leading supplier and developer of HBAs. It also supplies RAID technology. Vixels technology complements this. Emulex can now offer its OEMs switching products so that Emulex HBAs talk to Emulex switch technology in storage devices over Fibre Channel or, in the future, iSCSI links. It will make Emulex HBA certification easier with OEMs that take the InSpeed technology. It also offers the longer term possibility of integrating storage I/O and switching products in new ways.