02 Nov 2023
Chip giant will instead focus its efforts on components needed to scale artificial intelligence applications.
Global manufacturing specialist Jabil has acquired Intel’s silicon photonics pluggable transceiver module business, enabling it to expand its presence in the supply chain for data centers.
The business, built up by Intel from its early pioneering work in the area of silicon photonics, will now form part of Jabil’s own photonics division, which was formerly known as Jabil AOC Technologies.
Jabil Photonics is active in four locations, with research and development efforts in California and Ottawa, Canada, alongside manufacturing sites in Wuhan, China, and Penang, Malaysia.
The deal, which forms part of Intel’s wider cost-cutting efforts, will enable Intel to focus on silicon photonics components for future scaling of artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure.
In the chip giant’s recent financial update, CEO Pat Gelsinger told investors that this represented a higher-value part of the business, adding:
“This marks the tenth business we have exited in the last two-and-a-half years, generating $1.8 billion in annual savings and a testament to our efforts to optimize our portfolio and drive long-term value creation.”
Evolving data center demands
Matt Crowley, Jabil’s senior VP of cloud and enterprise infrastructure, said that the transfer would better position the company for customer requirements in the data center industry, including both current architectures and the challenges presented by future AI-driven applications.
At the moment, Intel's modules are used to connect Ethernet switches in large data centers, but as demand for bandwidth increases the firm expects silicon photonics co-packaged with switch ASICs to provide the bandwidth density necessary to scale future data center networks.
“These complex environments present unique challenges, and we are committed to tackling them head-on and delivering innovative solutions to support the evolving demands of the data center ecosystem,” Crowley remarked in a company release.
“Jabil is extremely well positioned to support customers as they incorporate innovative technologies into their data centers to navigate the increasing requirements around power and cooling being driven by artificial intelligence.”
The new arrangement should see a close working relationship between Jabil and Intel, with the latter’s chief strategy officer, Safroadu Yeboah-Amankwah, saying:
“We are pleased to reach this agreement with a world-class supplier like Jabil. We look forward to working closely with Jabil, our customers, and our suppliers to enable a seamless transition as Intel shifts its focus to silicon photonics components for existing markets and emerging applications.”
Jabil Photonics already boasts expertise in optical design and simulation, mechanical design and thermal management, advanced chip-level packaging, as well as automated optical alignment and final assembly.
The company has also been active in the lidar sector, having agreed a contract manufacturing deal to scale up production of Innoviz Technologies’ automotive sensors several years ago.
In addition, it joined forces with eyeSight Technologies to develop in-car sensors designed to monitor drivers for signs of awareness and distraction.