Title of the Invention:
Optical Switching System
Cross-Reference to Related Applications:
This application claims priority under 35 TJ.S.C. §119 to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/215,974 entitled "OPTICAL SWITCHING SYSTEM" filed in the name of Alex Mashinsky on July 5, 2000, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to improvements in optical data transfer systems such as short-haul systems, and more particularly to an improved optical switching system for transferring data from one or more optical sources to one or more optical receivers.
Background of the Invention
Various types of optical switching systems exist for directing or routing an optical signal from an optical source to an optical receiver. Such switching systems typically have multiple wavelengths or channels for carrying data which are interfaced or launched onto an optical fiber for transporting the data to a destination. To facilitate the transmission of multiple channels onto a single fiber, separation of adjacent-in- wavelength channels is provided by known wavelength division
multiplexing (WDM) techniques. Generally, WDM increases optical system capacity by simultaneously transmitting data on several optical carrier signals at different wavelengths, resulting in an increase of the total system capacity by a factor corresponding to the number of different wavelength channels provided.
Existing WDM systems that transmit data on many channels generally include a separate optical modulation source for each channel. For example, an array of laser diodes may be used, with each laser diode tuned to a different frequency and individually modulated. The laser frequencies are usually evenly spaced, combined using an optical coupler and then launched onto an optical fiber. At the remote end of the fiber, a decoupler is used to separate the plural wavelength channels, whereupon the individual or separate wavelength channels are directed to corresponding optical detectors. The optical detectors, such as photodiodes and other photodetectors, convert the optical signals to electrical signals. The electrical signals are then interpreted by electronic receivers that transform the transmitted data into useful information.
In such systems, all electronic receivers must be configured in a like manner as the transmitters such that they operate using a single, dedicated protocol. Thus, for example, for a receiver to properly decipher an optical signal, it must recognize the format in which the signal is sent by the transmitter. Components of such formats include headers, footers, and checksums. Thus, for 128 bit map transmission blocks, for example, the receiver must be set up or aware of the configuration of the
transmitted block to properly decipher the received data. Once a protocol is established on an optical network, the data transmission remains fixed to that protocol. This rigid environment prevents the adoption of later-developed, more advanced protocols for optical data transmission. Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide for a dynamically switchable optical system for that contains modulators and receivers capable of switching among various protocols during data transfer.
It is a further object of the present invention to create synchronized optical bursts from multiple optical sources or optical wavelengths and to communicate the format or protocol of such bursts to optical receivers for use in deciphering data represented by the optical bursts.
Summary of the Invention According to one aspect of the present invention, a method and apparatus for communicating data includes a transmitting processor for receiving data for transmission to a receiving processor over an optical network. The transmitting processor selects at least one of a plurality of protocols for said transmission, transmits an indication of the at least one selected protocol to the receiving processor over a control channel, and transmits the data to the receiving processor over the optical network using the at least one selected protocol.
According to a second aspect of the present invention, a method and apparatus for communicating data over an optical network includes a transmitting processor which receives data for transmission to a plurality of receiving processors over the optical network. The transmitting processor selects at least one of a plurality of protocols for said transmission, transmits an identification of the at least one selected protocol to the receiving processors over a control channel; and transmits the data to each of the receiving processors over the optical network in the at least one selected protocol. In certain embodiments, each receiving processor may use only a portion of the received data that is addressed specifically for it. According to still another aspect of the present invention, a method and apparatus for receiving data over an optical network includes a receiving processor for receiving, from a transmitting processor, an indication of an optical protocol for an optical data transmission via at least one of: an electronic network and a wireless transmission. The receiving processor then receives the optical data transmission via an optical network and converts the optical data transmission from the optical protocol to an electronic protocol.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, an optical network includes a transmitting processing unit for (1) receiving data in an electronic protocol for transmission over an optical network, (2) selecting at least one of a plurality of optical protocols for said transmission, (3) transmitting an indication of the at least one selected optical protocol over at least one of: an electronic network
and a wireless transmission, and (4) transmitting the data over the optical network in the at least one selected optical protocol. The optical network further includes a receiving processing unit for (1) receiving, from the transmitting processor, the indication of the at least one optical protocol for via at least one of: the electronic network and the wireless transmission, (2) receiving the data from the transmitting processor in the optical protocol via the optical network, and (3) converting the received data from the optical protocol to an electronic protocol.
Brief Description of the Drawings Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, of which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of an optical switching system in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2 is an illustration of an exemplary multi-channel conduit for transmitting optical signals in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention; and
FIG. 3 is a flowchart depicting an exemplary process for data transfer in accordance with the present invention.
It is to be understood, however, that these drawings are solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they
are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein.
Detailed Description Of The Invention The present invention is directed to an optical communication and switching system for communicating optical data from an optical source to one or more optical receivers. The system includes an optical transmitter containing one or more optical sources and connected to a transmitter central processing unit (CPU) for generating an optical burst of multiple source signals or multiple wavelengths. An optical conduit, such as a plurality of substantially, equal-length optical fibers, connects the optical transmitter to one or more optical receivers, each being controlled by a corresponding receiver CPU. The transmitting CPU and the receiving CPUs are also in communication with each other via a non-optical medium, such as a control channel, whereby a control signal is conveyed to the receiver CPUs to instruct the receiver CPUs as to the specific protocol of the transmitted optical burst. The control signal can be conveyed via an electrical conduit (i.e. over the Internet or other hard-wired network or telecommunication system) or via wireless RF transmission, e.g. Bluetooth.
In a preferred embodiment, the different control signals will be conveyed to multiple receiver CPUs to allow a multicast optical signal to be translated into multiple protocols by the optical receivers. Each receiver CPU may be configured to be able to accept data from all of the transmitting wavelengths and interpret the
sampled data as one packet or frame according to the given transmission protocol. Such protocols may include Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Internet Protocol (IP), Ethernet and Frame Relay. Other protocols may likewise be accommodated. The protocol(s) in which the data are transmitted may be selected based on the protocols accepted by the receiver(s), protocol(s) recognized by the transmitter, the type of data received, the size of the data to be transmitted, the protocol in which the data is received, and the like. For example, a transmitting CPU may query a receiving CPU as to the type of protocols it can accept and make a selection of the protocol accordingly. Alternatively, the receiving CPU may register all acceptable protocols with the transmitting CPU.
Accordingly, multiple data streams, each encoded by different protocols, can be multiplexed or concatenated together on the same optical conduit. The data may then be transmitted to one or more of receiver CPUs, which, in turn, accept only the portion of the data streams that are addressed to it, as may be identified in transmissions over the control channel.
Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 depicts a schematic representation of a switching system 10 in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention. The system 10 includes a transmitting central processing unit (CPUT) 12 which is electrically connected to one or more optical sources 14 for generating optical signals
having wavelengths λi-λn. The CPU 12 generates electrical pulses Xι-Xn which, in
turn, activate the optical sources in a manner well-known to one of ordinary skill in the art. Such techniques are referred to as Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) or On Off
Keying (OOK) modulation. The light sources may be laser diodes with each generating a signal wavelength or channel, a plurality of distributed feedback lasers (DFB) for generating particular wavelengths, or an integrated multi-frequency laser of the type described in the U.S. Patent No. 5,450,431. The generated optical signals are configured into a packet or "frame" representing one or more types of optical data, depending on the manner in which the optical data are encoded. In the system 10 of FIG. 1, for example, four optical sources Lι-L of four wavelengths λi-λ4 are depicted, with each source being
controlled by a corresponding electrical pulse Xj.-X . The resulting generated optical signals form a matrix or frame of four elements by being in either an "on" state signifying an active laser pulse, or an "off state when the particular laser is not activated. Thus, at any given time, sixteen frame value can be produced, e.g. all optic sources being "off, all optic sources being "on", Li and L2 being "on" while L3 and L4 are "off, etc. It should be readily apparent that the use of four optical sources is exemplary and that additional sources can be employed, thereby increasing the amount of "values" or data represented by the frames.
The outputs of each optical source can be on discrete or common wavelengths. The optical signals are received by an optical coupler, such as an optical compressor or focusing lens which launches the signals onto optic fibers 18 for transport to the optical detectors 24. The optic fibers 18 can be either signal mode or multimode. The fiber 18 can also be comprised of multiple fibers of substantially equal lengths, or a single fiber. As an alternative to multiple, substantially-equal length fibers, the
optical signals can be wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) or time division multiplexed (TDM) onto a single fiber while the optical signals are separated in frequency or time at the receiving end of the fiber using well-known techniques, for constructing the optical frame. As a further alternative to the use of multiple fibers, a customized, multichannel optic fiber 118 of the type generally depicted in FIG. 2 can be employed. The fiber 118 has a length divided into multiple, parallel conduits 118-1, 118-2, 118-3 and 118-4, with each conduit capable of carrying an optical signal generated from one of the optical sources 14. In the system 10 shown in FIG. 1, the multiple optical signals are received by a decoupler 22, such as an optical decompressor for separating the individual signals from the optical fiber, whereupon the separated signals are provided to optical detectors 24, which in turn, convert the optical signals back to electrical signals. The resulting electrical signals are provided to a receiver CPU 26A for decoding. In the preferred embodiment, the transmitted optical signal can be multicast by a splitter 20, as is known in the art, to a plurality of optical receivers 24, each interfaced with a decoupler 22 and having a corresponding receiver CPU, shown as CPU 26B-26„.
In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, a plurality of protocol identifying signals are communicated from the transmitter CPUT 12 and, in turn, one or more of the receiver CPUs 26 in order to identify the format or protocol to be used in deciphering the received data frames. Alternatively, an optional control processor 30 may determine the protocols to be used and identify the same to the
transmitting and receiving CPUs. The available protocols may be stored in a protocol database 31. Transmitting and receiving CPUs may register the protocols that are available to it, and may download further protocols from the protocol database 31. The protocol identifying signals may be communicated via an electrical connection 28 or through wireless transmission means. In the former case, the electrical connection 28 may be any type of hard-wired network or telecommunication network, such as the Internet. The electrical connection 28, or control channel, may facilitate communications using Internet Protocol and may be in-band or out-of-band. In the latter case involving wireless transmissions, the transmitter CPUT 12, the receiver CPU's 26, and the control processor may communicate via wireless transceivers (not shown), such as Bluetooth transceivers, for transmitting the necessary protocol identifying signals therebetween. Once received, the transmitting CPU 12 will modulate the optical sources according to the protocol signals. Also, the receiving CPU (e.g. CPU 26A) will decipher the received optical signal according to the protocol by the identifying signal. In this manner, different receiving CPUs can decipher a given optical frame in different ways, based upon the different protocol identifying signal sent by the control processor 30. The control processor 30 can also act as a common clock between the transmitting CPU 12 and the receiving CPUs 26 in order to assure that the CPUs are synchronized, and thus preventing timing errors during the data transfer.
Referring to FIG. 3, therein is depicted an exemplary process 300 for communicating data over an optical network according to the present invention. The
process 300 begins at step 302, where a transmitting CPU receives data to be forward to one or more receiving CPUs in one or more protocols or formats over an optical connection. The transmitting CPU then communicates scheduling information, the appropriate data protocol and a destination to the appropriate receiving CPUs over one of an electronic connection 28 or a wireless connection (step 304). The transmitting CPU may then assemble the data for transmission in one or more required protocols and transmit all of the data in one or more bursts or cycles of bursts over the optical network fibers 18 (step 306). Each of the receiving CPUs then receive the optical burst(s) and convert at least a portion of the data that is addressed to it into an electronic format (step 308), after which process 300 ends.
As one example of an application of the above principles, certain embodiments of the present invention can be employed to map ATM cells into a signal burst of light from 53 separate light sources, representing the status of each unit in the ATM cell, thereby allowing direct mapping of electrical ATM streams to optical ATM streams. The present invention can also be used for mapping Internet Protocol (IP) streams over an optical network. Such mapping can allow multicasting of the information to many switching centers across multiple networks while allowing each switching center to select only the "frames" related to it own message stream based on the headers of each frame. The control channel may be used to communicate frame information as well as protocol information. For example, the control channel may be used to identify not only the protocol that data will be transmitted in, but may also identify the frames of data that are addressed to each
receiving CPU. The control channel may also be used to identify a time for the data transmission. This type of network management and optical switching allows for a dramatic increase in both throughput as well as organization of fiber resources.
In another example, a frame header preceding one or more optical frames will inform a receiving CPU that the optical data following the header is intended for the particular CPU, and the protocol identifying signal will be used by the receiving CPU to translate the received optical data according to a particular protocol. Moreover, an optical frame header can be used to signal that the following optical data are intended for more than one receiving CPU, and the protocol identifying signal can be used to allow different and distinct translations of the optical signal according to different protocols to obtain different data from a common received optical signal. Additionally, by applying the inventive mapping process, an optical to electrical to optical (OEO) switching system can be designed that will allow routing of data using various protocols without the need for additional equipment. In a further example, the transmitting CPU may itself receive data streams from multiple sources. The data streams may be of differing protocols, and each data stream may be destined for a different receiving CPU. As the transmitting CPU receives information from each of the multiple data streams, or concatenated streams, it may "cache," or temporarily store in memory, the information until enough data is received to transmit a complete "burst" over the multiple optical links connecting the transmitting CPU to the receiving CPUs. Based in part on the delay associated with caching the information before transmitting the bursts, the transmitting CPU may
determine a cycle of "bursts" to transmit the multiple data streams to the receiving CPUs, wherein each of the multiple data streams receives e.g. one burst a cycle. In this manner, the transmitting CPU may be transmitting a burst of information associated with one data stream while caching information associated with the other data streams. Scheduling of the bursts may be configured between the transmitting and receiving CPUs over the control channel 28 such that each receiving CPU is informed as to when in the cycle a burst that is meant for it is transmitted. In accordance with this embodiment, bursts of information that are received by one receiving CPU but are meant for another are ignored. It should be readily apparent that the system 10 of the present invention may accommodate one-one, one-many or many-to-one communication schemes. Furthermore, a separate control processor (not shown) may be used to dictate transmission protocols and transmission times to both the transmitting and receiving CPUs. While particular features of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be understood that various other substitutions and changes in the form and detail of the devices illustrated and their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements or method steps which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Moreover, it should be
• recognized that structures and/or elements shown and/or the method steps described in connection with any disclosed form or embodiment of the invention may be
incorporated in any other disclosed, described or suggested form or embodiment as a general matter of design choice. Accordingly, the spirit and scope of the invention is defined solely by the appended claims.