A flexible and scalable architecture and method that implements dynamic rate control scheduling in an ATM switch. The scheduler shapes a large number of streams according to rate values computed dynamically based on switch congestion information. To handle a large range of bit rates, a plurality of timewheels are employed with different time granularities. The streams are assigned dynamically to the timewheels based on computed rate values. The shaper architecture and method support priority levels for arbitrating among streams which are simultaneously eligible to transmit.
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