Computer Communication Review

Current issues in packet switch design

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Addressing the ever growing capacity demand for packet switches, current research focuses on scheduling algorithms or buffer bandwidth reductions. Although these topics remain relevant, our position is that the primary design focus for systems beyond 1 Tb/s must be shifted to aspects resulting from packaging disruptions. Based on trends such as increased link rates and improved CMOS technologies, we derive new design factors for such switch fabrics. For instance, we argue that the packet round-trip transmission time within the fabric has become a major design parameter. Furthermore, we observe that high-speed fabrics have become extremely dependent on serial I/O technology that is both high speed and high density. Finally, we conclude that in developing the architecture, packaging constraints must be put first and not as an afterthought, which also applies to solving the tremendous power consumption challenges.