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Proceedings Paper

Photonic backplane architecture for broadband switching
Author(s): Ted H. Szymanski
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Paper Abstract

The architecture of a terabit free-space photonic backplane for parallel computing and communications is described. The photonic backplane interconnects typically 32 printed circuit boards or multichip modules (PCBs or MCMs) and has a bisection bandwidth in the terabit/sec range, with each PCB/MCM receiving a fraction of the peak bandwidth. The backplane consists of a large number of parallel reconfigurable optical channels spaced a few hundred microns apart. The parallel channels can be organized as a multi-channel ring where the channel access protocols are implemented by smart pixel arrays. Smart pixel arrays are integrated opto-electronic devices with optical I/O and with electronic processing capabilities. A smart pixel array which supports multiple reconfigurable broadcast channels and which transports terabits of optical data per second (Tb/s) and filters and extracts hundreds of gigabits of electrical data per second (Gb/s) for each PCB or MCM is proposed. Projections for free-space optical backplane capacities over the next decade are outlined. Within a decade, free-space optical technologies have the potential to support aggregate capacities of the order of 10s of Tb/s. It is also shown that optical technologies have the potential to result in significant reductions in volume and increases in performance when compared to conventional electrical architectures.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 March 1996
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 2692, Optical Interconnects in Broadband Switching Architectures, (20 March 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.235862
Show Author Affiliations
Ted H. Szymanski, McGill Univ. (Canada)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2692:
Optical Interconnects in Broadband Switching Architectures
Thomas J. Cloonan, Editor(s)

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