Juniper nabs silicon photonics start-up Aurrion

Silicon photonics start-ups are hot property right now. Now Juniper Networks has agreed to acquire start-up Aurrion, a developer of silicon photonics technology, for an undisclosed sum.

Juniper founder and chief technical officer Pradeep Sindhu disclosed, via a blog post, that his company has been looking for technology that will help it slash the cost of developing optical components.

‘Historically, the optoelectronic portion represented significantly less than half the cost of a networking system, especially for optoelectronics designed for short to medium distances,’ he explained. ‘If we fast forward to today, we see that things have completely reversed: the optoelectronics portion now represents significantly more than half the cost.’

Enter Aurrion, whose ‘breakthrough technology’ has the potential to dramatically lower cost per bit-per-second for networking systems, while providing higher capacities for networking interfaces, and greater flexibility in how the data is processed inside the electronic portion of networking systems, according to Sindhu.

Privately held Aurrion was founded in 2008 and has raised $22.5 million in equity funding, according to Crunchbase. Based in Santa Barbara, California, the company’s heritage comes from the university, where founders John Bowers and Alexander Fang worked on processes to integrate indium phosphide lasers into silicon photonics. Bowers became chairman of the board at Aurrion, and Fang its chief executive officer.

Aurrion’s heterogeneous integration technology, which was outlined in an article in Fibre Systems, involves placing lots of small indium phosphide dies – ‘chiplets’ – onto the silicon wafer before they are processed into devices like lasers and amplifiers (see Disruptive technology or just a silicon blip?).

The acquisition echoes others in the networking space. Cisco made the first move with its $272 million purchase of Lightwire in 2012. Since then Mellanox has acquired Kotura, Huawei bought the optical integration team at the UK’s Centre for Integrated Photonics (CIP) as well as Caliopa, a spin-out from Belgian electronics centre imec, and Ciena purchased photonic integration assets from TeraXion.

Why did Juniper decide to pick up Aurrion? ‘Simply put, we believe this acquisition will strengthen Juniper’s ability to bring the most advanced and most cost effective network products to market more quickly,’ said Sindhu.

He added: ‘If we couple this new technology with Juniper’s history of bringing innovative networking products to market, we believe we can make significant improvements to the foundations of all of our networking products within a relatively short time.’

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