With its research partners, iCAIR is designing and developing large-scale information technologies that are significantly more flexible, expandable and extensible than those implemented today. Many iCAIR projects are creating new digital communication services and technologies to support innovative advanced applications that cannot be implemented on traditional communications infrastructure. These new methods empower applications with multiple new capabilities. Consequently, new applications do not have to be designed in the context of the restrictions of current information technology infrastructure. They can be designed to take advantage of this new infrastructure, and, therefore, they will have significantly more power and functionality than those deployed today. They will also be much more distributed and flexible. They will be the basis for ubiquitous services - available "anywhere, anytime, on any device." In addition, they will be easy-to-access and easy-to-use. Achieving these goals requires fundamentally new architectural designs for information technology infrastructure.
New Technology Architecture for Advanced Applications
Emerging next generation applications require technology infrastructure that is substantial more flexible and customizable than that which is currently deployed. This principal is fundamental to the technology design concepts at iCAIR. Another key design principal at iCAIR is to design advanced technologies such that they are transparent, while their power and capabilities are readily accessible, ubiquitous and easily useable. Also, currently, almost all information technology systems are developed as separate, fairly distinct components. New architectural trends are creating designs that provide for interoperation and integration of multiple components into seamless digital fabrics. Much current new infrastructure development is being driven by the needs of data-intensive, compute intensive and bandwidth intensive applications. Therefore, a crucially important design goal is to provide support for extremely resource intensive applications, especially those requiring large-scale data management and transport. However, while supporting such large-scale resource requirements, this new infrastructure must also allow applications to be highly distributed, enabling them to be used nationally and globally. In addition, many applications also require more than high performance, such as new forms of fine-grained, sophisticated control processes. Another design premise is that new types of networks will the the foundation infrastructure for next generation information technology. (Ref: Next Generation Internet: Creating Advanced Networks and Services, J. Mambretti, A. Schmidt, Wiley, 1999)
Advanced Application Demonstrations and Showcases
iCAIR has facilities that provide for proof-of-concept advanced network based services, for example, to allow for early deployment of advanced applications over next generation networks. These facilities can be used by research communities and others interested in early access to advanced technology capabilities and services. iCAIR also showcases, at various local, national and international forums, such as the iGRID events and the national supercomputing conference, examples of innovative technology solutions for the industrial sectors, corporate processes, education and personal communications.
The primary showcase of the world's most advanced network based applications are the biannual iGRID conferences, events that demonstrate the power and potential of the "international Grid." Many excellent next generation applications have been demonstrated at the iGrid international applications and technology showcases. These iGRID demonstrations are organized by the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago along with other organizational partners. The goal of iGRID is to showcase the evolution and importance of global research community networking, especially by demonstrating applications being prototyped on the Global Grid. iGrid highlights achievements in Grid architecture development and the advancements enabled in science, engineering, cultural heritage, distance education, media communications, and art and architecture. Recently, such demonstrations have been showcases the potential for the "Global Lambda Grid," distributed infrastructure based on dynamic lightpath provisioning.
iCAIR was one of the organizing partners of iGRID2005 (www.igrid2005.org), which was designed to showcase next generation applications applications based on leading edge optical networking. With its research partners, iCAIR developed several demonstrations for this conference. One demonstrated a new method for supporting computational astrophysics modeling, using adaptive mesh refinement techniques, on a distributed infrastructure based on dynamic lightpath provisioning.
In September 2002, EVL at UIC and its partners in the Netherlands led the organization of iGRID2002, which took place in Amsterdam. iCAIR was also one of the organizing partners of iGRID2002 and demonstrated several applications that involved its OMNInet testbed (ref: www.startap.net/igrid2002/). The applications demonstrated at the iGRID conferences are particularly bandwidth intensive and most are based on Grid computing infrastructure. During the iGRID2000) in Yokahama, Japan, 24 demonstrations were shown, featuring technical innovations and application advancements, including those requiring Teleimmersion, large datasets, distributed computing, remote instrumentation, collaboration, human/computer interfaces, streaming media, digital video and high-definition television. During that conference, 14 countries participated: Canada, CERN, Germany, Greece, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA. iCAIR demonstrated the world's first International Global Digital Video Network (ref: www.startap.net/igrid2000/) At this showcase, iCAIR and its research partners provided a series of digital media demonstrations. (www.icair.org/inet2000/)
In 1998, during the national Supercomputing conference in Orlando, a variety of iGRID science demonstrations were shown that required high performance networking and computing. iCAIR, in partnership with NASA, demonstrated network based 3D scientific visualizations of astrophysics modeling. Back to top.
Many new architecture concepts for distributed environments are being formalized within the context of the Grid architectural standards. Grids are high performance distributed infrastructure, usually for extremely large-scale data, bandwidth, and compute intensive applications. However, Grids also support more general applications on distributed infrastructure. Grid environments allow for the virtualization of organizations, services, collaborative spaces, and specialized interactive environments on a scale never before possible. They support general, but secure, access to distributed digital resource centers repositories of large amounts of organized data, images, digital media, and other digital information. They also provide support for direct access to remote specialized instrumentation and unique facilities, and for new types of applications. These technologies allow global virtual organizations to be designed and implemented dynamically, supporting a wide range of basic functionality enterprise-wide that can be customized locally to meet precise needs. (Ref: The GRID: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure, Ed. Foster Keselman, Ref: Grid Computing)
A number of iCAIR projects are directed at creating new methods and technologies that allow networks to be "first class" resources within Grid environments, in other words allowing them to be controlled by standard Grid middleware processes. Today almost all Grids use common routed networks as external resources, as opposed to resources integrated into the Grid environment. When network resources are fully integrated into Grid environments, many new capabilities can be implemented, nation-wide and eventually world-wide. Some large scale Grid implementations use networks not for standard communications infrastructure but as backplanes for highly distributed, high performance computational clusters, comprised of hundreds or thousands of individual compute nodes which may be located across a nation or across the globe. Several iCAIR research projects are designing new techniques and technologies for such distributed backplanes.
Data Grids represent a new class of highly distributed system resource, based on high performance networks, designed specifically to manage and exchange large volumes of data from multiple sites and to provide coordination among various related distributed resources, such as scientific instrumentation. New information technology infrastructures based on Data Grid concepts allow for collaboration and resource sharing among many highly distributed communities. Many current Data Grids have been developed by large-scale e-Science communities.
Large Scale e-Science
iCAIR is a partner in many projects related to large-scale, high performance e-Science applications, which have always been one of the primary drivers of next generation technologies. These data, bandwidth and computationally intensive applications include many that that utilizes computational Grids - high energy physics, astrophysics, bioinformatics, computational biology, computational chemistry, data mining, high resolution visualization, digital engineering, geosciences, oceanographic and atmospheric studies, advanced digital media, medical imaging, financial data management, and e-commerce. Underlying such discipline-specific applications are other, cross-cutting applications, such as digital video, remote access to scientific instruments, specialized virtual-reality such as Teleimmersion, and high-performance distributed systems.
Photonic Empowered Applications
iCAIR's advanced networking infrastructure design and development projects are directed at a new class of applications based on high performance optical communications - Photonic Empowered Applications. The term "Photonic-Empowered Applications" refers to multiple, global, next-generation applications that are being designed and developed as highly asymmetric, highly distributed (including those based on resources at sites world-wide), and resource intensive - e.g., computationally intensive, bandwidth intensive, storage system intensive, et al. However, in addition, they are distinguished also by their utilization of advanced data communications based on dynamic multi-wavelength lightpath provisioning and supported by more flexible DWDM-based networking technology than that which is implemented in today's static point-to-point optical networks. They are also optical network "aware" - that is, they have a capability for directly discovering and signaling for use of the networking resources that they require, including signaling for the provisioning of lightpaths. In addition, some of these types of applications may be highly periodic and transient (e.g., they may exist only for a few moments at different times throughout a month or throughout a day). Consequently, they may transition instantaneously from a state requiring little or no network utilization to one requiring enormous network resources for days, hours, minutes, or moments, or even milliseconds. Many of these types of applications require a much closer integration of such resources than are currently available through existing information technology infrastructure, which tends to distinctly segment system components. Within the emerging new infrastructure, the boundaries between applications, computers, and networks truly dissolve. iCAIR first demonstrated these technology concepts in prototype at iGRID2002 in Amsterdam.
Photonic Data Services
iCAIR, National Center for Data Mining at UIC (ref: www.ncdm.uic.edu), and the Laboratory for Advanced Computing at UIC are developing new methods for integrating high performance data management techniques with advanced methods for dynamic lightwave provisioning. These techniques are termed "Photonic Data Services," and they were first demonstrated at iGRID2002. These services combine data transport protocols developed at the UIC research centers with wavelength provisioning protocols developed at iCAIR, such as ODIN. To prepare for iGRID2002, researchers at iCAIR and NCDM conducted a series of tests to ensure optimal performance of a variety of network components and protocols, such as TCP and UDP, including testing methods using services for parallel TCP striping (GridFTP). Researchers at the NCDM have been using OMNInet to test protocols that they developed to allow for the design of network based applications with reliable end-to-end performance and speeds that scale to multiple-Gbps. These protocols include PSockets and SABUL, which are open source libraries to build network applications with advanced functionality. NCDM's SABUL is an innovative protocol that uses UDP as a transit protocol but provides for reliability by using TCP as a control protocol. At iGRID2002, the NCDM and iCAIR presented a Photonic Data Services demonstration that set a new high performance record for trans-Atlantic data transit. This demonstration was repeated at a special forum at EVL at UIC for the Global Grid Forum in Chicago in Oct 2002 and again during SC2002 in November.
At iGRID2002, iCAIR demonstrated the prototype Photonic TeraStream to illustrate the potential for supporting global applications with next generation wavelength-based networking, which includes allowing those applications to utilize directly the optical network control plane. Such new applications could be based on techniques for provisioning "Global Services-on-Demand," a method that allows applications to select services used. The Photonic TeraStream was designed and developed to allow for experimentation with new techniques for provisioning for high performance composite applications. The Photonic TeraStream application was developed as a prototype "composite application" -that could potentially integrate several component applications, including high performance data transfer (based on GridFTP), digital media streaming (270 Mbps encoding, 600 with Forward Error Correction enabled), high performance remote data access methods (based on iSCSI, and dynamic resource provisioning.
High Energy Physics
iCAIR has engaged in multiple cooperative projects with the world-wide high energy physics research community. High energy physics research investigates complex topics related to the fundamental nature of matter, especially the attributes and behavior of the smallest elemental particles. These scientific investigations are undertaken by collaborative research teams world-wide that use highly sophisticated instrumentation to gather extremely large amounts of data, which then is distributed for analysis world-wide. Primary projects include the CDF and D0 at Fermilab, BaBAR at the Stanford Linear Accelerator and the forthcoming Large Hadron Collider at CERN. iCAIR is involved with research projects in partnership with scientists at these institutions, including the DataTAG project. These project focuses on problems related to managing, transporting, and storing extremely large amounts of HEP data.
In partnership with Northwestern's Materials Science Research Center, the Center is designing and developing technologies to support new applications in materials science. One is a joint project to develop the International Virtual Institute for Materials Science, which will have all the functionality of a research and education institution, but will be in cyberspace instead of the physical world. This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation (www.nsf.gov). The IVIMS requires a high-performance capabilities for instantaneously discovering, gathering, integrating, and presenting for a global set of users different sets of resources from throughout the world. These resources include large-scale data streams from experimental repositories at remote locations, scientific visualizations and digital media, and computational processes. Early prototypes of the International Virtual Institute have been developed and shown at a number of conferences, in the US and internationally.
Nanotechnology is the science and technology of precisely controlling the structure of matter at the molecular level. This discipline, which is often regarded as a particularly significant technological frontier, studies materials and devices at a nanoscale (a nanometer is one billionth of one meter). Several recent iCAIR initiatives have involved investigations into technologies required by computationally intensive nanotechnology research. Northwestern has established the Institute for Nanotechnology as an umbrella organization for large-scale nanotechnology research efforts. The Institute support's major research in nanotechnology, provides state-of-the-art nanomaterials characterization facilities, and fosters individual and group research directed at resolving key problems. As part of this effort, a $34 million, 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly was constructed on the Evanston campus. iCAIR has established a partnership with Northwestern's Nanotech Center for Learning and Technology (NCLT) to develop a large scale distributed infrastructure to support activities related to Nanotechnology science and engineering.
With its research partners, iCAIR is participating in a number of projects that are addressing infrastructure requirements of astrophysics, especially high performance networking. For example, iCAIR is assisting with developing networking capabilities to support the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is producing 3D digital astronomical maps. iCAIR is also preparing capabilities for supporting specialized research instruments and techniques over advanced networks. For example, one space geometric technique is very long baseline interferometry (VLBI), which allows for precise measures of the motions of the Earth. VLBI measures the earth's orientation by placing it within an inertial reference frame. VLBI is based on radio telescopes. By placing antenna in different locations around the globe, collecting radio waves from distant quasars, and measuring differences in arrival times (with picosecond precision), VLBI methods can measure various movements of the Earth. VLBI techniques require the gathering and distribution of large amounts of data. iCAIR has also been developing new methods for implementing astrophysical modeling and simulation on distributed infrastructure using techniques such as adaptive mesh refinement (AMR).
iCAIR has been participating in several projects that are developing high performance computational and communications infrastructure for Structural Genomics, including data transport from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. It has been several years since the International Human Genome Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project. The sequence of the human genome will be providing information for biomedical research for many decades. However, the genome data comprise only basic information. Key information is found in proteins interactions, which is increasingly a focus of major study.
iCAIR has been formed a partnership to explore new mechanisms to used advanced digital media techniques, including imaging, for biomedical applications, in cooperation with Northwestern's Medical School, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN), national research and education networks, StarLight, and various international networks. Since 2002, iCAIR and MREN have provided advanced networking capabilities to the annual RSNA conference Chicago at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority's McCormick Place, which has enabled new techniques in medical imaging to be showcased. With Northwestern's Medical School, RSNA, NIH, and the MPEA, iCAIR produced an international multicast event on the topic of image interpretation.
iCAIR has been involved in multiple bioInformatics projects, primarily those related to advanced medical imaging and high performance optical networking. As one of the partner institutions in the OptIPuter project, iCAIR is developing new techniques for supporting the BioInformatics Research Network project (BIRN), which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The OptIPuter project, led by Cal-IT2at UCSD and EVL at UIC, is a five-year, National Science Foundation funded project that is interconnecting distributed storage, computing and visualization resources using photonic networks. These techniques will allow scientists that are generating multi-gigabyte data objects at diverse locations to be able to locate, correlate, analyze, and visualize them. Currently, BIRN is a multiscale brain imaging federated repository. However, the project will be expanded to include other organs.
The OptIPuter project is also developing advanced optical networking techniques for supporting GeoSciences, which also requires utilization of large-scale, highly distributed 3D objects. One project for which techniques are being developed is the NSF's Earthscope, which involves the acquisition, processing, and scientific interpretation of satellite-derived remote sensing, near-real-time environmental data, and active source data. A related project is one that is developing OptIPuter architectural techniques for oceanography.
Advanced Digital Media
iCAIR has established multiple research and development projects in advanced digital media for the next generation Internet. Digital media has become an important driver application for the next-generation Internet technology design and creation. Currently, although digital media has been identified as an important technology for many communities, Internet technology does not effectively support digital media based applications. Internet content today primarily consists of text and images - digital media applications are currently fairly restricted. iCAIR and its research partners have been advancing digital media technology through multiple initiatives that are bringing capabilities for high quality, high performance digital media to the Internet. One goal of these initiatives is not only to bring high quality digital video (full color, full motion, full screen, CD-quality audio) as a common service to the Internet but also to create whole new classes of applications based on digital media.
iCAIR has undertaken projects related to three major digital video modalities: Video-on-Demand, interactive access to repositories of digital video and related digital objects, which can be directly streamed for immediate viewing or scheduled to be transferred at specified times; Streaming, direct transfer, for live transfer of digital or streaming from archived video allowing for interactivity such as pause, forward, and reverse; and Videoconferencing, multi-way interactive high quality video and audio for collaboration among two individuals or groups, along with supplemental capabilities for additional transmitted materials, such as projected 3D objects. In addition, the Center is developing access methods, such as the Digital Video Portal, a research project focused on interactive, network-based digital media. Also, iCAIR has a research partnership with C-SPAN that is developing new media services. This project has allowed C-SPAN to be multicast at high performance over national and international next generation Internets. At various conferences, iCAIR has demonstrated prototypes, and showcased various advanced capabilities.
More information on iCAIR advanced media projects are at Advanced Digital Media.
iCAIR has multiple project partnerships with the Electronic Visualization Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the CAVE technology was invented (www.evl.uic.edu). At SC98 (Supercomputing conference in November 1998), iCAIR in partnership with MREN and the NASA NREN network showcased a demonstration of scientific visualizations based on CAVE technology. An existing Northwestern project uses CAVE technology for industrial design. iCAIR also has established projects, currently within its testbed lab, with Avaya (built on previous projects with ATT and Lucent) focused on the evaluation and development of research technologies for teleconferencing among large groups over advanced Internets. Back to top.
iCAIR is investigating methods of using advanced optical networks to support extremely large collections of digital information. The StarLight(SM) project (www.startap.net/starlight/), in partnership with the Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL) at the University of Illinois, this effort is examining new methods of using new lightpath network architecture to support extremely high performance data streaming. For example, an optical Terra Wide Testbed is now being built in parallel with StarLight, which is an advanced optical infrastructure and proving ground for network services optimized for high-performance applications, with major funding provided by the National Science Foundation. StarLight is being developed by UIC's EVL, iCAIR, and the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with Canada's CANARIE and Holland's SURFnet.
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