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Internet2 and ESnet Span Country with 100 Gigabit Network

The promise of 100 Gbps data transfer in the United States just got more real with completion of a transcontinental network that delivers 8.8 terabits of capacity. The work is being done by two research network organizations, the United States Department of Energy's Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and Internet2. ESnet connects DOE scientists and their collaborators at 40 different labs and supercomputing facilities; Internet2 supplies high-speed networking for national research labs and universities.

The latest network was built by Internet2 with systems from Ciena, which supplied its 6500 Packet-Optical Platform for backbone connections. Those connections now operate for a distance of 4000 miles, spanning between New York; Washington, DC; Cleveland; Chicago; Kansas City; Denver; Salt Lake City; and Sunnyvale, CA.

"This new coast-to-coast capacity represents the first major milestone in completing the nation's most advanced platform for network-based innovation," said Rob Vietzke, Internet2's executive director of network services. "Prior innovations from the research and education community have given us the Internet itself, the World Wide Web, and social networking. We can only imagine what the major new capabilities of this new network might enable in a classroom, research lab, or health clinic."

Earlier this year, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which manages ESnet, announced an agreement with Internet2 for ESnet to share capacity on Internet2's Ciena platform. That capacity was needed for the Advanced Networking Initiative (ANI), a 100G prototype network that will link three of the DOE's major supercomputing centers--the Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility in Illinois, and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee, as well as the Manhattan Landing International Exchange Point (MAN LAN) in New York, which connects researchers in the United States with colleagues elsewhere in the world.

A goal of this prototype network will be to support interoperability testing of 100 gigabit components from multiple vendors. By the end of 2012, ESnet will transition the network to production and begin deploying 100 Gbps connections to link DOE Office of Science sites. Through the agreement, Internet2 is also providing untapped fiber to ESnet for a nationwide experimental network testbed.

"The global science community's needs for managing data are exploding in scope and complexity, requiring a fundamental shift in the way we provide networking. By 2015, we anticipate that ESnet will carry 100 petabytes of traffic per year--and this volume will continue to grow driven by research fields like high energy physics, climate research and genomics," said ESnet department head Steve Cotter. "[ANI] was created to re-establish America's global leadership in ultra-high capacity networking and to build the most sophisticated platform for accelerating U.S. science discovery in this age of data intensive research. Today's announcement marks a major milestone in ensuring this vision is realized."

Internet2 and ESnet will be sharing details of the 100 gigabit capabilities at SC11, an international conference for high performance computing, networking, storage, and analysis being held in mid-November in Seattle.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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