Chip giant Intel has paid $8bn to acquire the assets of NetEffect, a maker of Ethernet chips and adaptors for high-performance computing clusters.

NetEffect's Gigabit Ethernet and 10-Gigabit Ethernet adapters, ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) and intellectual property will complement Intel's current Ethernet portfolio. The added products will help Intel address demand for server compute clusters, server virtualisation, and convergence of network and storage traffic, Intel said.

NetEffect's products support iWARP, a set of extensions to Ethernet from the RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) Consortium that is designed to eliminate overhead and latency in Ethernet networks. Intel described iWARP as an alternative to InfiniBand.

Intel will continue to sell NetEffect's adapters and work with the former NetEffect engineering on future generations of ASICs, said Steve Schultz, director of marketing for Intel's LAN access division. Intel supports but doesn't make InfiniBand products, and NetEffect's iWARP-based products give Intel a lineup that offers comparable performance with the benefits of Ethernet, he said.