Making the decision to convert to a switch-fabric backplane can be daunting. In this increasingly mechanized world, backplanes must also keep up with increasing bandwidth demands. This challenge of meeting bandwidth demands has spurred several backplane technologies, including multi-point and point-to-point, and now switch fabric has joined the lot as the newest system in the industry. Although fabrics will indeed be the heart of network switches and routers in the near future, it might or might not be timely for designers to make this change. This article will provide system designers with an overview of the costs and rewards of making this paradigm shift and will aid them in facilitating the decision-making process, ultimately determining whether such a change is truly necessary.

Reprinted with permission from Embedded Computing Design/Winter 2003. Article © OpenSystems Publishing.