Juniper Buys Aurrion for Silicon Photonics Technology

The deal will help Juniper use silicon photonics to create faster, more affordable networks to handle such trends as video streaming and the cloud.

silicon photonics

Juniper Networks is buying Aurrion to grow its capabilities in silicon photonics to help businesses better handle the growing demand for more network bandwidth from such trends as cloud computing and video streaming.

Juniper officials announced the deal Aug. 2, saying that bringing Aurrion into the fold will help the company improve bandwidth capacity and drive down costs in high-speed networking infrastructures. No financial details of the acquisition were announced.

"As the world moves rapidly to the cloud, Juniper will continue to be a leader in the industry in developing the network infrastructure that powers this transformation," Juniper CTO Pradeep Sindhu wrote in a post on the company blog. "We expect that Aurrion's breakthrough technology will result in fundamental and permanent improvements in cost per bit-per-second, power per bit-per-second, bandwidth density, and flexibility of networking systems."

By combining this with Juniper's technologies, "we believe we can make significant improvements to the foundations of all of our networking products within a relatively short time," Sindhu wrote.

Networks worldwide will find themselves under increasing pressure in the coming years as the number of connected devices and systems proliferate, the adoption of cloud computing and analytics grow, and video content becomes a larger portion of the traffic running over them. According to the latest numbers from Cisco Systems' Visual Networking Index (VNI), IP traffic worldwide will increase 22 percent a year over the next five years, hitting 2.3 zettabytes by 2020—up from 870 exabytes last year—and the number of new devices on these networks will rise from 16.3 billion in 2015 to 26.3 billion in 2020.

Video traffic on the Internet will be four times more in 2020 than in 2015, making up 82 percent of all Internet traffic by the end of the decade. It was 68 percent of the traffic last year.

A growing number of tech vendors are looking to silicon photonics as a technology that will enable data center infrastructures to better handle such trends. IBM, Intel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Cisco and Mellanox Technologies are among the companies developing silicon photonics products.

Silicon photonics refers to the use of pulses of light rather than electrical signals over copper wires to move large amounts of data at high speeds and over long distances. Such capabilities are crucial for everything from enterprise servers to supercomputers running big data and cloud applications.

According to Juniper's Sindhu, the cost of moving data is increasing, and with video streaming, social networking and other bandwidth-hungry applications, the demand for more bandwidth and lower costs and greater flexibility will only increase. Without new innovations, it would be difficult to meet that demand.

"Aurrion has invented breakthrough technology that combines the economies of scale pioneered by the silicon industry with the unique properties of light to carry information over long distances at significantly lower cost," he wrote. "The end result? Dramatically lower cost per bit-per-second for networking systems, higher capacities for networking interfaces, and greater flexibility in how bandwidth carried on light is processed inside the electronic portions of networking systems."

According to officials with Aurrion, the 8-year-old company has been able to remove the optical transceiver as a hurdle to creating faster and more efficient networks by integrating InP (idium and phosphate) materials into a silicon photonics platform. Optical receivers are transformed into a low-cost and system-in-package technology that enables scalable, affordable and high-bandwidth systems, they said on the company's website.