Abstract

A vision of the photonic network in 2020 is presented, which envisages a “smart photonic cloud.” A smart photonic cloud is defined as a universal network platform without any physical or logical constraint that provides flexible connectivity for machine-to-machine communication such as networked high-performance computing or intra- and inter-data center networks. The key requirements for the network in the Big Data era include an ultralarge capacity with low power consumption, low latency, as well as flexibility on demand to the changes in the configuration and bandwidth of the optical path. To cope with the growing demand for network virtualization, novel photonic layer virtualization will be proposed, which differs from the conventional approach in terms of the number of slices and the dynamic range of the bandwidth of each slice. First, the objectives and the guiding principle of the vision will be addressed. Next, three “Ss” will be presented that represent the key enabling technologies, namely scale-free photonics, smart photonic networking, and a synthetic transport platform. A key engine with which to realize the above three enabling technologies is the photonic network processor (P-NP), which can define versatile functionality of switches and transmission systems by software. The P-NP takes advantage of the rapid progress made on digital signal processing for coherent optical transmission systems, and it consists of pools of optical frontends, digital signal processors, L1/L2 switches, which are either electrically or optically interconnected based on silicon photonic technology. Finally, a multifunctional optical cross-connect and a bit-rate-flexible optical transponder are presented as examples of P-NP applications.

© 2014 IEEE

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