Juniper Networks to buy silicon photonics company Aurrion

Pradeep Sindhu, founder, vice chairman, and CTO of Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), revealed via blog August 2 that his company has agreed to acquire privately held Aurrion for its silicon photonics expertise. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sindhu noted that optoelectronics technology, particularly for short to medium reach applications, used to account for a relatively small percentage of total system cost. However, optics now represents more than half of a system’s cost, he asserts. The acquisition of Aurrion and the addition of silicon photonics expertise should enable Juniper to arrest this trend, Sindhu wrote.

Founded in 2008 by its Chairman of the Board John Bowers and CEO Alexander Fang, Santa Barbara-based Aurrion has presented several papers on laser and high-speed receiver technology using silicon photonics, but has yet to formally introduce a product. The company received a $13.9 million multi-year contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) via the Electronic-Photonic Heterogeneous Integration (E-PHI) program to develop new technologies and architectures for electronic-photonic integrated circuits on a common silicon substrate. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $22.54 million via four funding rounds.

The planned acquisition echoes Cisco’s purchase of silicon photonics company Lightwire in 2012 (see “Cisco to acquire CMOS silicon photonics firm Lightwire”). Cisco leveraged LightWire’s expertise to create the CPAK 100-Gbps optical transceiver (see “Cisco unveils CPAK 100G silicon photonics-based optical transceiver”) as well as improve other optical interfaces via onboard optics approaches. Juniper has worked hard over the last several years to integrate optical transmission capabilities into its routers as well (see “Juniper Networks adds optical capabilities to PTX3000, MX routers”), an effort to which it could directly apply Aurrion’s expertise. Sindhu’s reference to short and medium reach applications also hints that Juniper may be looking to improve its data center interconnect story.


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