High Performance Fiber-Optic Interconnection Networks for Real-Time Computing Systems
Doctoral thesis, 1999
Parallel and distributed computing systems become more and more powerful and hence place increasingly higher demands on the networks that interconnect their processors or processing nodes. Many of the applications running on such systems, especially embedded systems applications, have real-time requirements and, with increasing application demands, high-performance networks are the hearts of these systems. Fiber-optic networks are good candidates for use in such systems in the future.
This thesis contributes to the relatively unexplored area of fiber-optic networks for parallel and distributed real-time computer systems and suggests and evaluates several fiber-optic networks and protocols. Two different technologies are used in the networks, WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing) and fiber-ribbon point-to-point links. WDM offers multiple channels, each with a capacity of several Gbit/s. A WDM star network in which protocols and services are efficiently integrated to support different kinds of real-time demands, especially hard ones, has been developed. The star-of-stars topology can be chosen to offer better network scalability.
The WDM star architecture is attractive but its future success depends on components becoming more commercially mature. Fiber-ribbon links, offering instead an aggregated bandwidth of several Gbit/s, have already reached the market with a promising price/performance ratio. This has motivated the development and investigation of two new ring networks based on fiber-ribbon links. The networks take advantage of spatial bandwidth reuse, which can greatly enhance performance in applications with a significant amount of nearest downstream neighbor communication. One of the ring networks is control channel based and not only has support for real-time services like the WDM star network but also low level support for, e.g., group communication.
The approach has been to develop network protocols with support for dynamic real-time services, out of time-deterministic static TDMA systems. The focus has been on functionality more than pure performance figures, mostly on real-time features but also on other types of functionality for parallel and distributed systems. Worst-case analyses, some simulations, and case studies are reported for the networks. The focus has been on embedded supercomputer applications, where each node itself can be a parallel computer, and it is shown that the networks are well suited for use in the radar signal processing systems studied. Other application examples in which these kinds of networks are valuable are distributed multimedia systems, satellite imaging and other image processing applications.