A large crossbar switch, which is a desirable building block for any low-latency interconnect network, is difficult to implement because of many practical problems associated with digital electronics. We propose a new method for implementing a large optoelectronic crossbar interconnect to take advantage of a unique principle of optics. Based on an emerging vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) technology, a passive angle-multiplexed beam-steering architecture is proposed as a key component of the optoelectronic crossbar. Various optical system parameters are evaluated. Because there is no optical fan-out power loss, the interconnect capacity of the proposed system is determined by the diffraction-limited receiver power cutoff, and therefore interconnection of more than 1000 nodes with a per node bandwidth of 1 GHz is possible with today's technology. A 64-element VCSEL-array-based proof-of-principle optical system for studying the interconnect scalability has been built. Details of the features of the proposed system, its advantages and limitations, demonstration experimental results, and their analyses are presented.
© 1996 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article