Flexible All-Wireless Inter-Rack Fabric for Datacenters Using Free-Space Optics

Project Overview

Data centers are a critical piece of the infrastructure supporting our society. The design of a robust data center network fabric is challenging as it must satisfy several goals, viz., high performance, low equipment and management cost, incremental expandability to add new servers, and other practical concerns such as cabling complexity, and power and cooling costs. The project envisions and delivers on a datacenter network design approach that is radically different from prior architectures: a fully flexible, all-wireless fabric using Free-Space Optics (FSO) communication links, which essentially use laser beams to wirelessly transmit data through air. Although outdoor FSO links are challenging to operate under adverse weather conditions, their use in a temperature-controlled datacenter environment offers enormous and untapped potential in information-handling capacity. The proposed network design equips each rack of servers with a number of FSO devices, each of which can be "steered" in real-time to wirelessly communicate with another FSO device on a different rack. The steering ability enables a dynamic network that adapts to the prevailing network traffic. More details can be found in the below papers.



  1. N. Hamedazimi, H. Gupta, V. Sekar, S. Das. Patch Panels in the Sky: A Case for Free-Space Optics in Data Centers. ACM HotNets 2013. PDF
  2. M. I. Sakib Chowdhury, Mohsen Kavehrad, Weizhi Zhang. Cable television transmission over a 1550-nm infrared indoor optical wireless link. SPIE Opt. Eng. Journal 52 (10), 2013. PDF
  3. N. Hamedazimi, Z. Qazi, H. Gupta, V. Sekar, S. Das, J. Longtin, H. Shah, A. Tanwer. FireFly: A Reconfigurable Wireless Data Center Fabric using Free-Space Optics. ACM SIGCOMM, 2014. PDF; Full version
  4. M. I. Sakib Chowdhury, Mohsen Kavehrad, Weizhi Zhang, Peng Deng. Combined CATV and very high speed data transmission over a 1550-nm wavelength indoor optical wireless link. SPIE Photonics West, 2014. Link
  5. Zaoxing Liu, Antonis Manousis, Greg Vorsanger, Vyas Sekar, Vladimir Braverman. One Sketch to Rule Them All: Rethinking Network Flow Monitoring with UnivMon. To appear in ACM SIGCOMM 2016. PDF
  6. M. Curran, H. Gupta. Providing line-of-sight in a free-space-optics based data center architecture. ICC 2016. PDF


This work is supported by NSF Awards 1514017 (Stony Brook), 1513764 (CMU), and 1513866 (Penn State).