Hewlett Packard Enterprise backs startup Ayar Labs for photonic circuits

Technology giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Thursday announced a “multi-year strategic collaboration” with Ayar Labs, the seven-year-old photonic chip startup whose circuits are designed to move data between chips much faster than typical metal interconnects.

California-based Ayar, which has amassed $65 million in venture capital funding, is also receiving funding from Hewlett’s venture capital unit, Hewlett Packard Pathfinder. The two declined to disclose how much.

Hewlett said that because of the rapidly increasing amounts of data in high-performance computing (HPC) and in artificial intelligence computing, traditional “electrical-based networking offerings will eventually reach bandwidth limits.”

Therefore, the duo “plan to develop capabilities that leverage optical I/O, which is a silicon photonics-based technology that uses light instead of electricity to transmit data, to integrate with HPE Slingshot,” Hewlett’s networking product dedicated to interconnecting HPC systems. Slingshot is being developed for computers such as “exascale” machines designed for the US Department of Energy.

Ayar Labs claims its silicon photonic technology can deliver 1,000 times the bandwidth of electrical I/O circuity while consuming 1/10th the power.


A recent Ayar Labs research report on a terabit-per-second optical interconnect.

Ayar Labs 2021

Ayar Labs has amassed nearly two dozen patents on photonic chip technology and has another four dozen patent applications.

Recent research published by the company describes transmitting 1-terabit-per-second data feeds over wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) fiber-optic network systems, at 128 gigabits per second on each of 16 ports. 

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