HONG KONG Veteran Sun Microsystems executive David Yen will join Juniper Networks on April 2 in the newly created position of executive vice president for emerging technologies reporting to Juniper chief executive Scott Kriens. In that role, Yen will create an engineering group to spearhead work "at the intersection of high-performance computing and networking," said a Juniper spokeswoman.
Yen left Sun Microsystems after just one year in his latest post as head of the company's revived semiconductor unit.
Taking Yen's place at least temporarily is Mike Splain, a veteran Sun engineering manager who was recently named a chief technologist of Sun's systems group. Splain, who helped design Sun's microprocessor strategy and oversee its implementation, was named acting head of Sun's Microelectronics group.
Juniper is not disclosing details of what technologies or products the new group will drive under Yen. The group will focus on its existing customer base of businesses and service providers to whom Juniper sells a full range of routers, switches and networking appliances.
The move comes at a time when computer and communications companies are trying to consolidate multiple systems in large data centers and central offices. Computer makers are delivering server blades--chassis that pack multiple servers, as well as cards for networking and storage functions, often from third parties. For its part, Juniper archrival Cisco Systems recently rolled out a high-end router that embeds a host of higher network processing functions thanks to new multi-core ASICs from Cisco.
"It is with great delight that we welcome one of the industry's most distinguished technology luminaries to the Juniper executive management team," said Kriens in a prepared statement.
"David's depth of passion, determination and expertise in processor, system and software design, combined with his commitment to excellence in engineering, will prove invaluable to Juniper in the months and years ahead as we continue to advance the fundamentals and economics of high-performance networking," added Pradeep Sindhu , Juniper's vice chairman, chief technical officer and founder.
Yen's departure hits just as Sun has emerged from a protracted period of losses and is beginning to show consistent revenue growth.
Yen had served Sun for 20 years in a variety of capacities often seen as the executive charged with the company's toughest technical challenges. He led the company's original microelectronics group at a time when Sun aggressively tied to recruit other companies to use its Sparc processor. Later he led the company's server division and then helped start a new storage division before returning to recreate the semiconductor group.
To date Sun has had few high-profile achievements in its efforts to create a merchant business around its processors.
Sun licensed multithreaded Ethernet technology to Marvel. In a recent interview, one group executive said Sun is delivering the tools and services needed to establish a broader merchant market presence for its chips.
The company recently chose to delay its latest high-profile processor, Rock, an aggressive design using a number of new techniques. At recent events, Sun executives played down the Rock delay, saying its multithreaded Niagara chips were gaining greater than expected market traction.
Yen recently helped strike a deal to use TSMC as its primary foundry for work using 65 nm and beyond process technology. Sun had a longstanding partnership with Texas Instruments, but TI has ceased development of process technology beyond 65 nm.
It's not clear what role Yen will play at Juniper when he officially joins in April.
Separately, Sun announced Monday it won a $44.29 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to develop its Proximity interconnect technology as part of a broader project on optical on-chip links. Proximity uses capacitive coupling to make on-chip connections at extremely high rates, however, getting proper alignment of the connections has been an issue for Sun's researchers to date.
Proximity was part of a broad effort to compete for as much as $300 million in government funding as part of Darpa's High Productivity Computer Systems project. However, Cray and IBM beat out Sun for that grant.