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the photonic bottleneck

the photonic bottleneck

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Published by: FaridF on Oct 19, 2008
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02/01/2013

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The Photonic Bottleneck 
Kerry Hinton
*
, Peter M. Farrell
+
, Rodney S. Tucker
*
*ARC Special Center for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks, +National ICT Australia, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australiak.hinton@ee.unimelb.edu.au
Abstract:
By analyzing the basic physics of all-optical processes,we show that all-opticalnetworks will suffer a “photonic bottleneck” due to the fundamental properties of photons.
©2006 Optical Society of America
OCIS codes: (230.4320) Nonlinear optical devices; (250.5300) Photonic integrated circuits
1.Introduction
Theconcept of the “electronic bottleneck”was often discussed in the late 1990’saround the time of the explosivegrowthof the Internet.At that time, it appeared that theability of electronic routers to process IP trafficwas beingout-stripped by the growing demand for Internet capacity. However, it was also apparent that the capacity of WDMoptical communications systems was growingeven more rapidly, resulting in many researchers and developersviewing all-optical systems as the solution to the electronic bottleneck [1,2].There is no doubt all-optical phenomena offer much faster dynamics than current electronic devices, but there ismuch more to obtaining reliable high capacity opticalsystems than just high speed devices.To be economicallyviable, thenextgenerationoptical transport technologies mustprovide four times the capacity at no more than 2.5times the cost of the current generation [3]. If bit rate was the only concern, then 40Gb/s and higher bit rate systemswould have been deployedsome years ago.The reality is that the commercial deployment of a new technology isdependent upon its ability to reduce total system costs per customer-paid unit of traffic [4]. This includesCAPEXandOPEX resulting from equipment power consumption and size.Therefore,before all-optical routers caneliminate the “electronic bottleneck”, there must bea feasible path leading tothese routers becoming commerciallycompetitive with their evolving electronic counterparts.In this paper we show that the fundamental physics of thephoton-photon interaction is a significant impedimentagainstcost-effective deployment ofall-opticalnetworks.In fact, the basic properties of photons manifestthemselves as a “photonic bottleneck”that will impede the introduction of all-optical networking.
2. The photonic bottleneck in optical communications
Optical networks are evolving toward the Generalised Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) [5]. GMPLSimplements a layered switching stack, depicted on the left ofFig.1. Also shown in Fig.1 are thebuffering and thesignal processingrequirements (including switching)as well as the functionsprovided by each layer and how theyare currently implemented.Operations shown inparentheses are not yet commercially available.
l     e c  t   r   oni     c  O  p t   i     c  al    
 
NoneNone(Wavelength conversion, regeneration)None(Wavelength conversion, regeneration)Noneframe processing, FEC, TDM, regenerationSmall: Synchronisation, frame processing, TDMlabel processingLarge: packet contention, LSP merge, Class of Servicepacket header processingLarge: packet contention, header processing
Signal ProcessingBuffering NeedsFunction
Service to customer Traffic engineeringNetwork managementTransportTransportTransport
GMPLSProtocol StackPacketLSPTDMWavelengthWavebandFibre
 O /    I    n t    er  f     a c  e
Presentday
l     e c  t   r   oni     c  O  p t   i     c  al    l     e c  t   r   oni     c  O  p t   i     c  al    
 
NoneNone(Wavelength conversion, regeneration)None(Wavelength conversion, regeneration)Noneframe processing, FEC, TDM, regenerationSmall: Synchronisation, frame processing, TDMlabel processingLarge: packet contention, LSP merge, Class of Servicepacket header processingLarge: packet contention, header processing
Signal ProcessingBuffering NeedsFunction
Service to customer Traffic engineeringNetwork managementTransportTransportTransport
 
NoneNone(Wavelength conversion, regeneration)None(Wavelength conversion, regeneration)Noneframe processing, FEC, TDM, regenerationSmall: Synchronisation, frame processing, TDMlabel processingLarge: packet contention, LSP merge, Class of Servicepacket header processingLarge: packet contention, header processing
Signal ProcessingBuffering NeedsFunction
Service to customer Traffic engineeringNetwork managementTransportTransportTransport
GMPLSProtocol StackPacketLSPTDMWavelengthWavebandFibre
 
PacketLSPTDMWavelengthWavebandFibre
 O /    I    n t    er  f     a c  e
Presentday
Fig.1TheGMPLS protocol stack showing the requirements for buffering andsignal processing.
The packet and LSP layers at the top of the GMPLS stack require large buffers, primarily to deal withcontention[6]. These layers also process the data stream to implement packet and label switching.AlthoughtheTDM layer has a much smallerbufferrequirementit doesemploya significantamount of signal processingtoimplement TDM, FEC, scrambling, BER monitoring and network functionsmanagement functions [7]. Today, thewavelength and lower layers provide transport paths.(In the future, these wavelength and waveband layers mayinclude some signal processing such as wavelength conversion and optical regeneration.)As indicatedon the right ofFig.1,theoptical/electronic (O/E) interfacecurrentlylies between theWDMandTDM layers.(“WDM” includes boththewavelength and waveband layers.)Forall-optical packet switching thisinterfacemovesto the very top of the stack. (In “all-optical” network test-beds, itis usually recognised thatelectronic signal processing is currently more effective. The “all-optical” packet switches in these test-bedselectronically process the packet header after splitting it away from the packet payload which is optically buffered but not processed.)
a1208_1.pdf 
 
OThI1.pdf 
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Ithasbeenshown that all-optical buffering is competitive with electronic (CMOS) buffering onlywhenthe buffers areverysmall[6].The processing and buffering requirements of the LSP and Packet layers make it clear that the O/E interface cannot be moved into these layers cost-effectively.Thisisa manifestation of the “photonic bottleneck” which, as will be shown below, also applies to every implementation of all-optical signal processing.Whether or not the packet header is processed electronically,“all-optical”implementations of packet switchingmusttake into accountthe significant amount ofbit-levelsignal processing which occurs in the lower TDM layer.We now turn our attention to the TDM layer. When the term “electronic bottleneck” emerged, there were proposalsto remove or “thin down” the TDM layer (often called “SONET-Lite” [8]). However,it was recognised that manyfunctions of the TDM layer areabsolutelyessential for good network management, sothe proposals movedtheseTDM functions to other layers rather thaneliminatethem.Therefore moving the O/E interface above the TDM layer (i.e. all-optical TDM) will require all-optical signal processing to implementthese essential network managementfunctions as well asbit-by-bitswitching, signal regeneration and wavelength conversion.Although the TDM layer hasonlysmall memory requirements,all these functions require processing of the payload.In this case a photonic bottleneck arises because shifting the O/E interface above the TDM layer will be very difficult without significantlyincreasing CAPEX and OPEX, for reasons discussed below.If we attempt to avoid the photonic bottleneck by removing the TDM layer from all the core-routers (makingthe core network a WDM routed network) and electronically processing only the LSP/packet headers, then faultlocation will become difficult. This is because only theheader will be regenerated at each node. Payload degradationand payload faults, particularly those which occur inside the routers, will require an extra layer of all-optical faultmonitoring thereby increasing CAPEX, OPEX and networkcomplexity: another photonic bottleneck.
3.Fundamentalphysics electron and photon interactions
The three key differences between photons and electrons, whichinfluence the relativesize, power and costs of electronic and photonic signal processing are:
The photons used in optical communications are a factor of 10
6
larger than electrons. The Compton wavelengthof photons used in optical communications is ~1
μ
m. The Compton wavelength of an electron is ~ 2x10
-6
μ
m.The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle means the devices used to manipulate photons must be at least ~10
6
timestheminimumsize of those used to manipulate electrons. Currently the limit on the size of electronic circuitry is~ 10’snm, due to lithography [9]. However, there are technologies which will enable smaller electronic devices[10]. There is no similar opportunity to reduce the size of photonic devices.
Photonshavezero rest mass and so must propagate. In contrast, electrons have non-zero rest mass and aremucheasier to confine. Because photons must propagate, they experience losses which must be compensated via again mechanism. All gain mechanisms consume pump power andare subject to quantum noise which manifestsasamplified spontaneous emission.This cannot beremoved as it is a fundamental property of the quantumvacuum [11]. The energy threshold for generating spontaneous photons isrelatively low (~ 10
-19
J), hencethe photonic signal must have sufficiently high power to ensure a good signal to noise ratio.
Thephoton-photon interaction is much weaker than the electron-electron interaction. The physics of photon- photon interactions is described byquantum electro-dynamics(QED). QEDrepresents interactions between photons and electrons using “Feynman Diagrams” which are built up by inter-connecting the basic interactiondiagram shown in Fig.2(a)[11]. InFig.2(a),e
in
represents an incoming electron,
γ 
represents the photon withwhich the electron interacts and e
out
is the outgoing electron arising from the interaction. The point where thelines meet is called the “vertex”.Formoderate optical intensities, the relative strength is the interactionrepresented by a Feynman Diagram is, approximately, given by (1/137)
(number of vertices)
[11].
e
out
e
in
γ 
e
out
e
in
γ 
e
sig
e
cntrl
γ 
e
sig
e
cntrl
γ 
e
cntrl
e
cntrl
γ 
sig
γ 
sig
e
cntrl
e
cntrl
γ 
sig
γ 
sig
γ 
cntrl
e
out
e
in
γ 
sig
γ 
sig
γ 
cntrl
e
out
e
in
γ 
sig
γ 
sig
e
out
e
in
γ 
sig
γ 
cntrl
γ 
sig
γ 
cntrl
e
out
e
in
γ 
sig
γ 
cntrl
γ 
sig
γ 
cntrl
(a)Basic FeynmanDiagram(b)Electronicswitching diagram(c)Photons switched byelectrons(d)
χ
(2)
based photonicswitching (PPLN)(e)
χ
(3)
based photonic switching(HNLF, SOA)Fig.2 Feynman Diagrams for electronic and optical signal processing, including switching, wavelength conversion and regeneration.
The 2-vertex Feynman Diagram shown inFig.2(b) relates to electronic switching.The “cntrl” and “sig”subscripts correspond to the control field and signal fields respectively.Electronic switching or control of photons isshown in Fig.2(c).The3- and 4-vertexFeynmandiagrams for all-optical signal processing, switching, regeneration
a1208_1.pdf 
 
OThI1.pdf 
   ©   O   S   A  1  -  5  5  7  5  2  -  8  3  0  -  6
 
   A  u t  h  o  r i  z  e  d l i  c  e  n  s  e  d  u  s  e l i   m i t  e  d t  o :   U  n i  v  o f   T  e  x  a  s  a t   D  a l l  a  s .   D  o   w  n l  o  a  d  e  d  o  n   O  c t  o  b  e  r  1  0 ,  2  0  0  8  a t  1  7 :  0  7 f  r  o   m I   E   E   E   X  p l  o  r  e .   R  e  s t  r i  c t i  o  n  s  a  p  p l  y .

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