Cisco is to buy SpansLogic, a privately-held chip designer, to embed its processors in its switches. It is hoped that this will meet customer demands for ever-faster Ethernet networking equipment.

SpansLogic, founded in 2004 with funding from Crescendo Ventures and ATA Ventures, has said little about its work to date.

"We are developing a line of products that challenge long-held assumptions about a fundamental function in computing," it said on the Spanslogic website. "Our technology derives from an elegant reformulation of the problem, an insight that allows us to overcome serious bottlenecks related to power consumption, speed, and cost of key applications."

While that technology can be applied to several fields, the company initially focused on networking, it said. The company has recently tried to recruit a software engineering manager with experience of embedded networking software development for network processors, and a product and test engineer with a background in testing integrated circuits with high-speed I/O.

Cisco will bring SpansLogic's 14 employees into its Datacenter business unit, where they will report to divisional Senior Vice President Tom Edsall. Cisco expects to close the deal, for an undisclosed sum, by 28 April.