Vodafone unveils partnerships with silicon photonics companies iPronics, Salience

In a push to develop and deploy silicon photonics technology, telecommunications leader Vodafone detailed plans to expand its workforce and announced partnerships with European photonic chip developers iPronics and Salience Labs. Vodafone seeks to integrate photonic chips into its mobile base stations to enable an ultralow-latency, highly programmable, and more efficient network. The company identified the photonics firms as among the first startups to collaborate at the company’s expanded campus in Málaga, Spain.

According to Vodafone, photonic chip integration would support advancements in computation seen in generative AI, cybersecurity, and autonomous vehicles technologies, among others. iPronics, a spinout of Universitat Politècnica de València, began shipping its first programmable PICs earlier this year. The company’s full programmable PICs function similarly to field programmable gate arrays. In March, the company named a “multinational telecommunications and electronics company” among its first customers.

Salience Labs, a 2021 spinout of the University of Oxford and the University of Münster, is commercializing ultrahigh-speed multichip processors that place photonic processing mapping directly on top of static random access memory. The chips are designed for volume manufacturing using standard CMOS processes.

Vodafone shared information about the partnerships at the same time it announced it had expanded its Málaga campus. Vodafone said that the location, which is currently the base of more than 430 engineers, will add another 170 engineers by 2025.