This paper investigates the challenges for developing the current local area network (LAN)-based Ethernet protocol into a technology for future network architectures that is capable of satisfying dynamic traffic demands with hard service guarantees using high-bit-rate channels (80...100 Gb/s). The objective is to combine high-speed optical transmission and physical interfaces (PHY) with a medium access control (MAC) protocol, designed to meet the service guarantees in future metropolitan-area networks (MANs). Ethernet is an ideal candidate for the extension into the MAN as it allows seamless compatibility with the majority of existing LANs. The proposed extension of the MAC protocol focuses on backward compatibility as well as on the exploitation of the wavelength domain for routing of variable traffic demands. The high bit rates envisaged will easily exhaust the capacity of a single optical fiber in the C band and will require network algorithms optimizing the reuse of wavelength resources. To investigate this, four different static and dynamic optical architectures were studied that potentially offer advantages over current link-based designs. Both analytical and numerical modeling techniques were applied to quantify and compare the network performance for all architectures in terms of achievable throughput, delay, and the number of required wavelengths and to investigate the impact of nonuniform traffic demands. The results show that significant resource savings can be achieved by using end-to-end dynamic lightpath allocation, but at the expense of high delay.
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