Frequently Ask Questions

  • What is the insight behind merge networks?

  • Consider the links sending traffic to a switch (the opposite direction is identical). Typically, each individual link sees very little traffic or traffic is very bursty. We ask the question -- is it possible to combine all the traffic coming along N links into k < N links and thus use only k interfaces on the switch? By doing this we can (a) reduce the number of interfaces on a switch resulting in significant energy savings and (b) power off intefaces and line cards during low loads without incurring packet loss.

  • What is the energy cost of a merge network?

  • Our design of the merge network is very low energy (please refer to the previous publications) and as a result can be ignored.

  • What is the impact on Layer 1/2 protocols?

  • We hide the use of traffic merging by including a software layer in the switch. This layer implements virtual ports. Thus, if N links are merged to k, this software layer de-multiplexes packets in the switch and feeds them correctly to N virtual ports so that protocols are unaffected.

  • What is the impact of traffic merging on QoS?

  • This is an interesting question that we are examining in this research project.