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Architecture of a Terabit Free-Space Intelligent Optical Backplane
Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing
  • Ted H. Szymanski, McMaster University
  • Harvard Scott Hinton, Utah State University
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Optical technologies can support thousands of high bandwidth optical channels to/from a single CMOS integrated circuit, and can thus allow for the construction of novel bandwidth-intensive computing architectures which are no longer constrained by conventional electronic wiring limitations. In this paper, the architecture of a dynamically reconfigurableIntelligent Optical Backplaneis described. The backplane consists of a large number of parallel optical channels (typically 1000–10,000 bits) spaced a few hundred micrometers apart. The optical channels are arranged into upstream and downstream rings, where the channel access protocols are implemented by “smart pixel arrays.” The architecture exploits thebandwith advantageof the optical domain and can be dynamically reconfigured to embed conventional interconnection networks, including multiple busses, rings, and meshes. Unlike all-optical and passive optical systems, the proposed backplane is intelligent and can support communication primitives used in shared memory multiprocessing, including broadcasting, multicasting, acknowledgment, flow and error-control, buffering, shared memory caching, and synchronization. The backplane is also manufacturable using existing optoelectronic technologies. A second generation backplane supporting a distributed shared memory multi-processor is under development.

Originally published by Elsevier. Publisher's PDF available through remote link.
Citation Information
T. H. Szymanski and H. S. Hinton, Architecture of a Terabit Free-space Intelligent Optical Backplane, Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, Academic Press, Vol. 55, pp. 1-31, 1998