186 gigabits per second: High-energy physicists set record for network data transfer

Dec 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have set a new world record for data transfer, helping to usher in the next generation of high-speed network technology. At the SuperComputing 2011 (SC11) conference in Seattle during mid-November, the international team transferred data in opposite directions at a combined rate of 186 gigabits per second (Gbps) in a wide-area network circuit. 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 —which allows transfer rates of 40 and 100 Gbps—that will be built in the next couple of years.

"Our group and its partners are showing how massive amounts of data will be handled and transported in the future," says Harvey Newman, professor of physics and head of the high-energy physics (HEP) team. "Having these tools in our hands allows us to engage in realizable visions others do not have. We can see a clear path to a future others cannot yet imagine with any confidence."

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 fast transfer rate is also crucial for dealing with the tremendous amounts of data coming from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the particle accelerator that physicists hope will help them discover new particles and better understand the nature of matter, and space and time, solving some of the biggest mysteries of the universe. More than 100 petabytes (more than four million Blu-ray disks) of data have been processed, distributed, and analyzed using a global grid of 300 computing and storage facilities located at laboratories and universities around the world, and the data volume is expected to rise a thousand-fold as physicists crank up the collision rates and energies at the LHC.

"Enabling scientists anywhere in the world to work on the LHC data is a key objective, bringing the best minds together to work on the mysteries of the universe," says David Foster, the deputy IT department head at CERN.

"The 100-Gbps demonstration at SC11 is pushing the limits of network technology by showing that it is possible to transfer petascale particle physics data in a matter of hours to anywhere around the world," adds Randall Sobie, a research scientist at the Institute of Particle Physics in Canada and team member.

The key to discovery, the researchers say, is in picking out the rare signals that may indicate new physics discoveries from a sea of potentially overwhelming background noise caused by already understood particle interactions. To do this, individual physicists and small groups located around the world must repeatedly access—and sometimes extract and transport—multiterabyte data sets on demand from petabyte data stores. That's equivalent to grabbing hundreds of Blu-ray movies all at once from a pool of hundreds of thousands. The HEP team hopes that the demonstrations at SC11 will pave the way towards more effective distribution and use for discoveries of the masses of LHC data.

"By sharing our methods and tools with scientists in many fields, we hope that the research community will be well positioned to further enable their discoveries, taking full advantage of 100 Gbps networks as they become available," Newman says. "In particular, we hope that these developments will afford physicists and young students the opportunity to participate directly in the LHC's next round of discoveries as they emerge."

Explore further: A new generation of storage—ring

More information: More information about the demonstration can be found at supercomputing.caltech.edu

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User comments : 16

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Vendicar_Decarian
2.7 / 5 (9) Dec 13, 2011
This is horrible. Now the North American network monopolies won't have any excuse to increase their prices and keep North America one of the worst serviced internet populations in the world.
BloodSpill
4 / 5 (4) Dec 13, 2011
This is horrible. Now the North American network monopolies won't have any excuse to increase their prices and keep North America one of the worst serviced internet populations in the world.
I'm sure they'll think of something.
Shifty0x88
1 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
"Now the North American network monopolies won't have any excuse to increase their prices and keep North America one of the worst serviced internet populations in the world."

Well maybe North America as a whole sucks, but here in New Jersey I have 25/15Mbps, which is only about 1/8 the speed they are getting but I only pay ~$60 a month
Guy_Underbridge
Dec 13, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Shifty0x88
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
Edit: Well maybe North America as a whole sucks, but here in New Jersey I have 25/15Mbps, which is only about 1/7000th the speed they are getting but I only pay ~$60 a month.

LOL 1/7000th (not 1/8), I need some of that network, and some better math skills!
El_Nose
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 13, 2011
Give me a break

-- The US is HUGE - our states are the size of countries we are being compared to. The current infrastructure in this country is 10 times almost any other country, no other 1st world country other than Russia deals with distance scales the way America does. Canada is populated only along the US border -- get 400 miles north of that border and the population drops to next to zero - But the US is spread out - we take up space and we enjoy it... it means technology takes a little time to get everywhere - but when you try to compare the US to France or GB or Germany in terms of infrastructure it pisses me off because you are comparing something the size of Kentucky to the entire USA

So to those that say NA sucks - can you do it better?
BloodSpill
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2011
So to those that say NA sucks - can you do it better?


Have you heard about what's currently under construction in Australia?
Noumenon
4.7 / 5 (47) Dec 13, 2011
That's alot of porn.

VD won't miss an opportunity to say something negative about the USA, even if he has to invent it.
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
- but when you try to compare the US to France or GB or Germany in terms of infrastructure it pisses me off because you are comparing something the size of Kentucky to the entire USA
Most of the 40G/100G infrastructure is -between- France and GB and Germany (and Italy and Netherlands and Belgium...), so obviously you need to look into the issue a bit further.
US companies have been gun-shy about upgrading infrastructure since the bubble burst early last decade, and only do so when they have a guaranteed revenue to back it or risk loosing their customer-base to the competition.
The area covered is only a part of the equation, as the bandwidth bottlenecks in the US are in pretty confined areas. And even so, the companies I know running mostly 40G and bigger pipes in Europe are just now starting to put them in the USA.
Wicked
3 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
...a combined rate of 186 gigabits per second (Gbps) in a wide-area network circuit. The rate is equivalent to moving two million gigabytes per day...

Why would you convert Gbps to gigabytes per day?
Noumenon
4.8 / 5 (45) Dec 13, 2011
...a combined rate of 186 gigabits per second (Gbps) in a wide-area network circuit. The rate is equivalent to moving two million gigabytes per day...

Why would you convert Gbps to gigabytes per day?


"The rate is equivalent to,..."

Some can relate to HDD capacities better than rate per sec.
IamMeuru
not rated yet Dec 13, 2011
I have 25/15Mbps, which is only about 1/8 the speed


you sure? 8*25=200MB. 1GB = 1024 MB
default_ex
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
I have 25/15Mbps, which is only about 1/8 the speed


you sure? 8*25=200MB. 1GB = 1024 MB


Your math is broken. There are 8 bits in a byte, and you can't forget the 1,024 upscale factor:
25,000,000Bits / 8Bits => 3,125,000Bytes / 1,024Bytes => 3,051.7578125KBytes / 1,024KBytes = 2.98023223876953125MBytes.

Here's why the upscale is important: 25MBits / 8Bits = 3.125MBytes. Might seem like a small difference, but files haven't really grown large enough for 100KB/s to be even remotely insignificant.

And now you see why ISPs advertise in bits instead of bytes.
Ricochet
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
NA infrastructure be damned! I still salivate at the implications of data transfer speeds like that.
finitesolutions
3 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2011
USA is rationing internet :D : there is not enough for everybody.

With all the unemployed people sitting idle in good old USA developing a blazing fast optical network should worth its weight in gold/bills.
Hell you can even hang the optical fiber along the power lines.
Blakut
3 / 5 (1) Dec 19, 2011
In my country i've had internet at 7 MBytes/s for 14 Euros a month. Of course, living in Eastern Europe helps a lot. :D
Vendicar_Decarian
1.8 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2011
"So to those that say NA sucks - can you do it better?" - El-Nose

Everyone is doing it better than America. And that is true for more and more things every day.

Look up Pathetic Failure in a dictionary and you will find a map of the U.S.

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