Calient Networks, an upstart that makes pure optical switches, is buying Kionix, a company that makes the optical microchips needed to support Calient equipment.
The purchase for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock brings Kionix's manufacturing capabilities to Calient, which was already hiring Kionix to make key parts for its DiamondWave photonic switches.
Kionix specializes in technology called micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS), which includes arrays of tiny adjustable mirrors that reflect incoming wavelengths to the proper outgoing port in DiamondWave switches.
In that way the switches direct traffic from optical access networks to long-distance fiber networks. The mirror technology, called Scalable Control of a Rearrangeable and Extensible Array of Mirrors, lets carriers alter configuration of the switch to accommodate changing demand for bandwidth.
The switches can be reconfigured to switch incoming lightwaves to different exit ports, just as can be done with traditional cross connects in carrier networks. This gives carriers the ability to set up meshed optical networks that can reroute around failures. Traditional SONET optical networks are built in dual rings with traffic switching to the back-up ring if the primary ring fails.
The purchase of Kionix gives Calient control of its supply chain for MEMS technology, meaning it will be less susceptible to production problems as competition grows among photonic switch vendors.