Alan Freedman -- The Computer Language Company - Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
Longest-Running Tech Reference on the Planet

A CDE Definition

You'll love The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia (CDE) for Tech Term of the Day (TTOD)

LOOK UP ANOTHER TERM


optical switch

An all-optical fiber-optic switching device that maintains the signal as light from input to output. Traditional switches that connect optical fiber lines are electro-optic. They convert photons from the input side to electrons internally in order to do the switching and then convert back to photons on the output side.

Although some vendors call electro-optical switches "optical switches," true optical switches support all transmission speeds. Unlike electronic switches, which are tied to specific data rates and protocols, optical switches direct the incoming bitstream to the output port no matter what the line speed or protocol (IP, ATM, SONET) and do not have to be upgraded for any such changes. Optical switches may separate signals at different wavelengths and direct them to different ports.

Using tiny mirrors that reflect the input signal to the output port, MEMS technology is expected to be the prevailing method for building optical switches, also known as "photonic switches." There are various fabrication methods for building MEMS mirrors. See MEMS and transparent network.




MEMS-based Optical Switch
MEMS mirrors reflect the input signal to an output port without regard to line speed or protocol. This technology is expected to be the dominant method for building photonic switches.







MEMS Mirrors
An individual mirror in a MEMS-based switch can really fit through the proverbial "eye of a needle."






Personal Use Only

Before/After Your Search Term
BeforeAfter
optical mouseoptical viewfinder
optical network terminaloptical wireless
optical networkingoptical wireless communication
optical readeroptical zoom
optical recognitionoptical zoom range
optical resolutionoptically assisted recording
optical scanneroptimizer
optical storageoptimizing compiler
optical storage libraryOption key
Optical Storage Technology Associationoption ROM

Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.
Computer Words You Gotta KnowSystem design
Job categoriesUnix/Linux
Interesting stuffPersonal computers
InternetIndustrial Automation/Process Control
Communications & networkingAssociations/Standards organizations
HistoryDesktop publishing
Audio/VideoGraphics
MainframesSecurity
ProgrammingHealthcare IT
System design