Integrating Microsecond Circuit Switching into the Data Center

George Porter, Richard Strong, Nathan Farrington, Alex Forencich, Pang-Chen Sun, Tajana Rosing, Yeshaiahu Fainman, George Papen and Amin Vahdat
February 13, 2013

Recent proposals have employed optical circuit switching (OCS) to reduce the cost of data center networks. However, the relatively slow switching times (10-100 ms) assumed by these approaches, and the accompanying latencies of their control planes, has limited its use to only the largest data center networks with highly aggregated and constrained workloads. As faster switch technologies become available, designing a control plane capable of supporting them becomes a key challenge. In this paper, we design and implement an OCS prototype capable of switching in 11.5 microseconds, and we use this prototype to expose a set of challenges that arise when supporting switching at microsecond time scales. In response, we propose a microsecond-latency control plane based on a circuit scheduling approach we call Traffic Matrix Scheduling (TMS) that proactively communicates circuit assignments to communicating entities so that circuit bandwidth can be used efficiently.

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