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If optical routers are to become reality, we will need several new optical technologies, one of which is to build sufficiently large optical buffers. Building optical buffers for routers is daunting: Today's electronic routers often hold millions of packets, which is well beyond the capabilities of optical technology. In this paper, we argue that two new results offer a solution. First, we show that the size of buffers in backbone routers can be made very small-just about 20 packets per linecard-at the expense of a small loss in throughput. Second, we show that integrated delay line optical buffers can store a few dozen packets on a photonic chip. With the combination of these two results, we conclude that future Internet routers could use optical buffers.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2010