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Digital to optical switch conversion

This is a Q&A from SAN School Lesson 2.
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Does every frame get converted from digital to optical through the switch?

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Yes, that is the function of the GBIC (gigabit interface converter) on every switch port. The light pulses coming into the switch are converted to digital data, the switch looks into each frame to find the destination address, routes the data to the correct switch port that is attached to the target and the GBIC on the target port converts the signal back into light pulses for re-transmission to the target. This all happens extremely fast. Within the next ten years, I expect to see optical switches on the market that will eliminate that requirement. Optical or "photonic" switches will be able to move terabytes of data per second. Chris

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This was first published in February 2004

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