All-Optical Switching Tutorial, Part 1
This is the first of a pair of technology tutorials on all-optical switching by Geoff Bennett, vice president of technology advocacy at Marconi PLC (Nasdaq/London: MONI).
This tutorial covers the all-optical switches themselves – the various types, how they differ from electronic switches, where they sit in networks, what functions they perform, how they're controlled, and what they can and can't do.
The second tutorial covers optical switching fabric. In particular, it shows how different sizes and types of switch require different methods of routing light through their cores.
Both of these tutorials are based on a presentation given by Bennett at Opticon 2001, Light Reading's annual conference held in San Jose, Calif., in August of this year. Bennett would like to acknowledge the help of Peter Duthie, senior technical specialist, Marconi Optical Components, in preparing this presentation.
As a rule, Light Reading doesn't accept editorial contributions from manufacturers, but Bennett's tutorials provide valuable vendor-neutral insight into issues that have often been muddied by marketing hype.
In Bennett's view, the key to understanding all-optical switches is to consider the following issues in order:
Applications Identifying the purpose of an all-optical switch pinpoints key requirements in terms of scale, functions, and performance.
Techniques This covers how traffic is directed through the switch (the control plane) and the way in which it's handled (on its own dedicated wavelength or multiplexed with other traffic).
Technologies Dealt with in the second tutorial, this covers the fabric that routes optical pulses from input ports to output ports.
Here's a hyperlinked summary of this report:
Page 2: Basics
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