Scientists Set Internet2 Speed Record

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the European Organization for Nuclear
Research (CERN) set a new land-speed record for Internet2, a second-generation network serving universities
and research institutes.

The team, which included folks from AMD , Cisco ,
Microsoft Research, Newisys, and S2io, transferred 859 gigabytes of data in less than 17 minutes. It did
so at a rate of 6.63 gigabits
per second between the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland, and Caltech in Pasadena, Calif.,
a distance of more than 15,766 kilometers, or approximately 9,800 miles.

Scientists are racing to move gigantic amounts of data by 2007, when CERN’s Large Hadron Collider
(LHC) will switch on. This huge underground particle accelerator will produce some 15 petabytes
of data a year, which will be stored and analyzed on a global grid of computer centers.

High-energy physicists are excited about the LHC because they hope it will allow them to find the Higgs
boson, a theoretical particle that they believe creates mass.

“Physicists are trying to fill in the blank spaces
in our model of high energy physics,” said
Jim Gray
a Microsoft Research engineer who helped set Wednesday’s

But this $10 billion collider will be of little use if scientists around the world can’t access the data.

Researchers aren’t the only ones excited about blazing data speeds. This record speed of 6.63Gbps
is equivalent to transferring a full-length DVD movie in four seconds. There are uses in astronomy,
bioinformatics, global climate modeling and seismology, as well as commercial applications from entertainment
to oil and gas exploration.

Internet2 is fast — Abilene, a
U.S. cross-country backbone network, blasts data at 10Gbps. But transoceanic networking is another story.
There are hardware and software issues to overcome, Gray said.

For example, one limiting factor is that the fastest available interface for PCs is the PCIX64 Bus Isolation
Extender, which can only handle 7.5Gbps.

The land-speed test is part of an ongoing R&D program to create high-speed global networks
as the foundation of next-generation, data-intensive grids with a goal of transferring data at 1Gbps.

The performance also is the first record to break the 100-petabit meter per second mark. One petabit is
1,000,000,000,000,000 bits . That may seem like an almost inconceivably large number, but
Gray said storing petabits
of data is a fact of life for many large corporations. He said Microsoft has about 5 petabits of data, and he
estimates Google and Yahoo store that much, as well.

“If you have a million customers and they each have a
gigabyte of storage, that’s a petabit,” he said.

The technology used in setting this record included S2io’s Xframe 10 GbE server adapter, Cisco 7600 Series
Routers, Newisys 4300 servers using AMD Opteron processors, Itanium servers and the 64-bit version of
Windows Server 2003.

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