DARPA funds optical networking research

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has awarded $6.3 million to a team of researchers who are developing new optical routing technologies that could significantly speed up the next-generation Internet.

The award, part of DARPA's Data in the Optical Domain Network program, covers the first phase of a four-year project that has a potential value of $15.8 million. The DARPA program seeks to demonstrate routing and switching technologies that eliminate the need for converting optical signals to electrical signals as they travel over networks.

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara and Stanford University will lead a team that includes industry partners Agility Communications Inc., Calient Networks Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and JDS Uniphase Corp.

The team hopes that by developing technology that avoids optical-to-electrical conversions, it will greatly increase the data speed and significantly reduce power requirements of today's Internet infrastructure.

"Imagine a data stream greater than 10,000 feature-length films blasting through an optical router in one second," said Dan Blumenthal, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at U.C. Santa Barbara and leader of the research team.

Blumenthal said the research could achieve optical routing speeds over 100 terabits per second?about 100 times the capacity of current routers.

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