Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Turing Switches – Turing machines for all-optical Internet routing

Jon Crowcroft

January 2003, 7 pages

DOI: 10.48456/tr-556


This is technical report outlining an idea for basic long term research into the architectures for programmable all-optical Internet routers.

We are revisiting some of the fundamental tenets of computer science to carry out this work, and so it is necessarily highly speculative.

Currently, the processing elements in all-electronic routers are typically fairly conventional von-Neumann architecture computers with processors that have large, complex instruction sets (even RISC is relatively complex compared with the actual requirements for packet processing) and Random Access Memory.

As the need for speed increases, first this architecture, and then the classical computing hardware components, and finally, electronics cease to be able to keep up.

At this time, optical device technology is making great strides, and we see the availability of gates, as well as a plethora of invention in providing buffering mechanisms.

However, a critical problem we foresee is the ability to re-program devices for different packet processing functions such as classification and scheduling. This proposal is aimed at researching one direction for adding optical domain programmability.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Crowcroft, Jon},
  title = 	 {{Turing Switches -- Turing machines for all-optical
         	   Internet routing}},
  year = 	 2003,
  month = 	 jan,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  doi = 	 {10.48456/tr-556},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-556}