ASSESSMENT OF PHOTONIC SWITCHES AS FUTURE REPLACEMENT FOR ELECTRONIC CROSS-CONNECT SWITCHES
AuthorYoussef, Ahmed H.
Edwards Air Force Base
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AbstractThis paper presents the future of optical networking via photonic switches as a potential replacement for the existing electronic cross-connects. Although optical amplifiers are now mainstream and wave division multiplexing (WDM) systems are a commercial reality, the industry’s long-term vision is one of the all-optical network. This will require optical switching equipment such as all-optical or “photonic” cross-connect switches that will provide packet switching at an optical layer. Currently, as voice calls or data traffic are routed throughout Range and commercial networks, the information can travel through many fiber-optic segments which are linked together using electronic cross-connects. However, this electronic portion of the network is the bottleneck that is preventing the ideal network from achieving optimal speeds. Information is converted from light into an electronic signal, routed to the next circuit pathway, then converted back into light as it travels to the next network destination. In an all-optical network, the electronics are removed from the equation, eliminating the need to convert the signals and thereby significantly improving network performance and throughput. Removing the electronics improves network reliability and restoration speeds in the event of an outage, provides greater flexibility in network provisioning, and provides a smooth transition when migrating to future optical transmission technologies. Despite the fact that photonic switching remains uncommercialized, it now seems apparent that the core switches in both the public networks and DoD Range networks of the early 21st century will probably carry ATM cells over a photonic switching fabric.
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