Even if Nvidia doesn't explicitly repurpose Mellanox's networking technology for distributed GPU clusters of this type, it still owns another piece of the data center puzzle at a time when data center markets have been enjoying long-term robust growth and are expected to continue growing in the future as the IoT scales up and more enterprises shift to the cloud.
The agreement, which the companies described as "definitive", follows a competitive bidding process which according to sources familiar with the matter, included rival chipmakers such as Intel. The company is known for producing high-speed networking components using Ethernet and InfiniBand.
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A chip expert says the deal will give Nvidia an even bigger market share in the data-center market, which Reportlinker says will reach revenues of around $174 billion by 2023.
Shares of Mellanox rose 8.8 percent and Nvidia shares fell 1.3 percent in premarket trading.
Nvidia's acquisition of Mellanox would also represent a win for activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP, which is a shareholder of the company and reached a deal with it past year over the composition of its board. Overall their technology is used in over half of the TOP500-listed supercomputers in the world, as well as countless datacenters.
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The tie-up also builds on efforts at Nvidia and Mellanox to get out of the cutthroat business of selling chips and into the more profitable business of selling complete systems, said Bob Wheeler, a principal analyst at chip research firm The Linley Group.
Mellanox will be accretive to Nvidia's non-GAAP earnings and cash flow.
The headlining transaction has already been approved by both companies' boards of directors and is expected to close by the end of calendar year 2019. As Nvidia's press release puts it, acquiring Mellanox will allow Nvidia to optimise datacentre-scale workloads and achieve higher performance at a lower operating cost.
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Nvidia, at first glance, wouldn't be the kind of suitor you'd pick for a company like Mellanox.