Dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) technology has provided tremendous transmission capacity in optical fiber communications. However, switching and routing capacity is still far behind transmission capacity. This is because most of today's packet switches and routers are implemented using electronic technologies. Optical packet switches are the potential candidate to boost switching capacity to be comparable with transmission capacity. In this paper, we present a photonic asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) front-end processor that has been implemented and is to be used in an optically transparent WDM ATM Multicast (3M) switch. We have successfully demonstrate the front-end processor in two different experiments. One performs cell delineation based on ITU standards and overwrites VCI/VPI optically at 2.5 Gb/s. The other performs cell synchronization, where cells from different input ports running at 2.5 Gb/s are phase-aligned in the optical domain before they are routed in the switch fabric. The resolution of alignment is achieved to the extent of 100 ps (or 1/4 bit). An integrated 1×2 Y-junction semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) switch has been developed to facilitate the cell synchronizer.