DARPA Funds Optical Packet Router Development

May 4, 2004
Santa Barbara, CA, May 4, 2004--A team of researchers in industry and higher education, led by a group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been awarded $6.3 million by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Microsystems Technologies Office for the first phase of research to develop new technologies to advance optical router capacity.

Santa Barbara, CA, May 4, 2004--A team of researchers in industry and higher education, led by a group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been awarded $6.3 million by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Microsystems Technologies Office for the first phase of research to develop new technologies to advance optical router capacity. Subsequent optional research phases may raise the total to $15.8 million.

The team expects to develop and demonstrate all-optical technologies and systems that route data packets with no optical-to-electrical conversion. The potential payoff of avoiding optical-to-electrical conversions is to greatly increase the data speed and significantly reduce power requirements over today's approaches, consequently opening new possibilities for the distribution of rich data, voice, and video content at vastly greater speeds and using less power.

"Imagine a data stream greater than 10,000 feature-length films blasting through an optical router in one second," said Daniel Blumenthal, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara and leader of the research team. The research, he explained, will seek "to revolutionize optical integration density and develop new technologies to advance optical router capacity beyond 100 Terabits per second (Tbps)," or about 100 times the capacity of current state-of-the-art routers.

The team, known as LASOR for Label Switched Optical Router, includes researchers from Agility Communications (Santa Barbara, CA), Calient Networks (San Jose, CA), Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA) and JDS Uniphase (San Jose, CA), as well as Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The team's work will be supported over four years by the DARPA Microsystems Technologies Office's Data in the Optical Domain (DoD-N) program, managed by Jagdeep Shah.

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