This paper investigates, at the system level, the performance–cost trade-off between optical and electronic interconnects in an optoelectronic interconnection network. The specific system considered is a packet-switched, free-space optoelectronic shuffle-exchange multistage interconnection network (MIN). System bandwidth is used as the performance measure, while system area, system power, and system volume constitute the cost measures. A detailed design and analysis of a two-dimensional (2-D) optoelectronic shuffle-exchange routing network with variable grain size K is presented. The architecture permits the conventional 2 × 2 switches or grains to be generalized to larger K × K grain sizes by replacing optical interconnects with electronic wires without affecting the functionality of the system. Thus the system consists of logK N optoelectronic stages interconnected with free-space K-shuffles. When K = N, the MIN consists of a single electronic stage with optical input–output. The system design uses an efficient 2-D VLSI layout and a single diffractive optical element between stages to provide the 2-D K-shuffle interconnection. Results indicate that there is an optimum range of grain sizes that provides the best performance per cost. For the specific VLSI/GaAs multiple quantum well technology and system architecture considered, grain sizes larger than 256 × 256 result in a reduced performance, while grain sizes smaller than 16 × 16 have a high cost. For a network with 4096 channels, the useful range of grain sizes corresponds to approximately 250–400 electronic transistors per optical input–output channel. The effect of varying certain technology parameters such as the number of hologram phase levels, the modulator driving voltage, the minimum detectable power, and VLSI minimum feature size on the optimum grain-size system is studied. For instance, results show that using four phase levels for the interconnection hologram is a good compromise for the cost functions mentioned above. As VLSI minimum feature sizes decrease, the optimum grain size increases, whereas, if optical interconnect performance in terms of the detector power or modulator driving voltage requirements improves, the optimum grain size may be reduced. Finally, several architectural modifications to the system, such as K × K contention-free switches and sorting networks, are investigated and optimized for grain size. Results indicate that system bandwidth can be increased, but at the price of reduced performance/cost. The optoelectronic MIN architectures considered thus provide a broad range of performance/cost alternatives and offer a superior performance over purely electronic MIN’s.
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