Cisco plans to buy Lightwire, giving the networking giant access to a fast optical interconnect technology.
Lightwire employees will be moved into Cisco's Transceiver Modules Group Business Unit and its Supply Chain Operations Group, Cisco announced on Friday. The company will pay around $271m (£170m) for privately held Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Lightwire.
"The Lightwire acquisition builds on Cisco's existing optical networking expertise and complements Cisco's 2010 acquisition of CoreOptics, a designer of coherent digital signal-processing solutions and application-specific integrated circuits for high-speed optical networking applications," Ned Hooper, Cisco's chief strategy officer, said in a statement.
Lightwire's technology provides high-throughput, low-latency connectivity to switches, routers and other kit that need to pass data, but consumes very little power, Cisco said.
Enterprises are seeing a greater need for faster networking technologies, as the rise of virtualisation and mobile devices accessing sites increases the amount of data flowing between the server and storage layers of a modern datacentre.
"The acquisition of Lightwire will support our datacentre and service provider customers as they manage the continuing deluge of network traffic," Surya Panditi, senior vice president of Cisco's Service Provider Networking Group, said in a statement. "With the combined know-how from Cisco in silicon design and Lightwire in CMOS photonics, we will transform Cisco's optical connectivity business to an integrated technology platform".
Most major technology providers are developing their own optical interconnect technologies. Intel is working on photonics and plans to bring optical superfast connectivity to its Thunderbolt connectors at some point. IBM has been experimenting with on-chip optical interconnects and many academics have research projects in this area.