Datacenter networks are not only larger but with new applications increasing the east-west traffic and the introduction of the spine leaf architecture there is an urgent need for high bandwidth, low cost, energy efficient interconnects. This paper will discuss the role integrated photonics can have in achieving datacenter requirements. We will review the state of the art and then focus on advances in optical switch fabrics and systems. The optical switch is of particular interest from the integration point of view. Current MEMS and LCOS commercial solutions are relatively large with relatively slow reconfiguration times limiting their use in packet based datacenter networks. This has driven the research and development of more highly integrated silicon photonic switch fabrics, including micro ring, Mach-Zehnder and MEMS device designs each with its own energy, bandwidth and scalability, challenges and trade-offs. Micro rings show promise for their small footprint, however they require an energy efficient means to maintain wavelength and thermal control. Latency requirements have been traditionally less stringent in datacenter networks compared to high performance computing applications, however with the increasing numbers of servers communicating within applications and the growing size of the warehouse datacenter, latency is becoming more critical. Although the transparent optical switch fabric itself has a minimal additional latency, we must also take account of any additional latency of the optically switched architecture. Proposed optically switched architectures will be reviewed.
Madeleine Glick, "The role of integrated photonics in datacenter networks," Proc. SPIE 10131, Next-Generation Optical Networks for Data Centers and Short-Reach Links IV, 1013104 (Presented at SPIE OPTO: January 31, 2017; Published: 28 January 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2255794.
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