The Internet is today reinforced by a network of powerful optical fibers across the globe. Yet the optical which transmit better than the electrical signal are not easily controlled.
With the help of routers handling internet traffic, optical signals are processed in electrical mode before being returned to its optical form which can be exhausting and time consuming.
Over time researchers at MIT, spearheaded by Vincent Chan have found ways to make this optical network conversion simpler. This is bound to speed up the internet a 100 to 1,000 times more and save energy consumption.
A reason for the efficiency of this transmission is as a result of varieties of light wavelengths bearing information can be conducted on a fiber. However challenges arise when varying optical signals arrive at the router about the same timing. The conversion process enables the router store for a while before release. This can take a few milliseconds though the process isn’t cost effective.
Chan sorts this problem by a method called flow switching. Heavy data exchanging locations like Los Angeles and New York by this process experience dedicated path on the network via flow switching. Routers would channel signals in specific directions as needed. Memory storage is unnecessary due to the impossibility of multiple signals passing through.
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This is not entirely new to the today’s internet. Web corporations like Google or Facebook utilize servers located across the USA. The excessive data exchange could require them leasing from telecoms corporations who handle the nation’s fiber-optic network. It’s impossible for any internet traffic to use this dedicated wavelength.
At this point, the bandwidth at the two ends remains static. If data exchange is minimal, the servers would waste bandwidth from the wavelength. If otherwise, it could exceed boundaries.
Bandwidth allocation changes frequently on a flow-switching network. With increasing traffic between New York and Los Angeles, there’s need to allocate extra wavelengths which would decrease in sync with reducing traffic. Chan’s team has discovered faster network systems that make this possible.
From 20 years published research findings, they’ve established formulas on the flow-switch operation and reported successful computer test runs that included application on the Eastern Seaboard optical network.
The result of their findings is that the flow of data experiences increase a 100 or 1,000 times over after a few network adjustments. Recently the focus has been on the saving power benefit of flow-switching. Though an exchange of power for speed is possible, there’s need to quantify it. For now the reduction of power consumption on the internet with a 100 times increase rate in data is a possibility.
Cisco systems principal engineer, Ori Gerstel, claims that a number of approaches for the increase of optical network data have been suggested but the much functional option remains flow switching; its only problem being economic implications. It meant an overhaul and change of existing internet routers. Presently the demand for faster internet cannot be determined. Flow switching appeals to large demand, according to Gerstel, but currently it’s not the case.
Chan, however envisages that should the demand of high definition videos and online streaming increase in coming years as a result of its growing awareness, then flow switching might become a money spinning enterprise.