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Packet-switch fabrics with widely varying characteristics are currently deployed in the domains of both communications and computer interconnection networks. For economical reasons, it would be highly desirable that a single switch fabric could accommodate the needs of a variety of heterogeneous services and applications from both domains. In this paper, we consider the current requirements, technological trends, and their implications on the design of an ASIC chipset for a merchant switch fabric. We then identify the architecture upon which such a suitable and generic switch fabric could be based, and we present the general characteristics of an implementation of this switching fabric within the bounds of current state-of-the-art technology. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to design a chipset that can be used for both communications and computer interconnection networks.