At the SuperComputing 2011 (SC11) conference in Seattle during mid-November, an international team transferred data in opposite directions at a combined rate of 186 gigabits per second (Gbps) in a wide-area network circuit, says Caltech. The rate is equivalent to moving two million gigabytes per day, fast enough to transfer nearly 100,000 full Blu-ray disks—each with a complete movie and all the extras—in a day.
The team of high-energy physicists, computer scientists, and network engineers was led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the University of Victoria, the University of Michigan, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), Florida International University, and other partners.
According to the researchers, the achievement will help establish new ways to transport the increasingly large quantities of data that traverse continents and oceans via global networks of optical fibers. These new methods are needed for the next generation of network technology—which allows transfer rates of 40 and 100 Gbps—that will be built in the next couple of years.
Using a 100-Gbps circuit set up by Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE) and BCNET, a non-profit, shared IT services organization, the team was able to reach transfer rates of 98 Gbps between the University of Victoria Computing Centre located in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Washington State Convention Centre in Seattle. With a simultaneous data rate of 88 Gbps in the opposite direction, the team reached a sustained two-way data rate of 186 Gbps between two data centers, breaking the team’s previous peak-rate record of 119 Gbps set in 2009.
In addition, partners from the University of Florida, the University of California at San Diego, Vanderbilt University, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro State University and the São Paulo State University), and Korea (Kyungpook National University and the Korean Institute for Science and Technology Information) helped with a larger demonstration, transferring massive amounts of data between the Caltech booth at the SC11 conference and other locations within the United States, as well as in Brazil and Korea.
The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation, in cooperation with the funding agencies of the international partners. Equipment and support was also provided by the team’s industry partners: CIENA, Brocade, Mellanox, Dell and Force10 (now Dell/Force10), and Supermicro.