Recently, optical packet switch architectures, composed of devices such as optical switches, fiber delay lines, and passive couplers, have been proposed to overcome the electromagnetic interference (EMI), pinout and interconnection problems that would be encountered in future large electronic switch cores. However, attaining the buffer size (buffer depth) in optical packet switches required in practice is a major problem; in this paper, a new solution is presented. An architectural concept is discussed and justified mathematically that relies on cascading many small switches to form a bigger switch with a larger buffer depth. The number of cascaded switches is proportional to the logarithm of the buffer depth, providing an economical and feasible hardware solution. Packet loss performance, control and buffer dimensioning are considered. The optical performance is also modeled, demonstrating the feasibility of buffer depths of several thousand, as required for bursty traffic.
David K. Hunter, W. David Cornwell, Tim H. Gilfedder, Andre Franzen, and Ivan Andonovic, "SLOB: A Switch with Large Optical Buffers for Packet Switching," J. Lightwave Technol. 16, 1725- (1998)