A system for communicating a multi-destination packet through a network switch fabric with a plurality of input and output ports is described. This system receives the multi-destination packet at an input port, wherein the multi-destination packet includes a multicast packet or a broadcast packet that is directed to multiple output ports, and wherein the network switch fabric maintains a separate virtual output queue (VOQ) for each output port. Next, the system sends the multi-destination packet from the input port to the multiple output ports by inserting the multi-destination packet into VOQs associated with the multiple output ports. The multi-destination packet is inserted into one VOQ at a time, so that after the multi-destination packet is read out of a VOQ and is sent to a corresponding output port, the multi-destination packet is inserted in another VOQ until the multi-destination packet is sent to all of the multiple output ports.
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