NCDM Wins SC 06 Bandwidth Challenge and Establishes New Milestone Transporting Terabyte Size E-Science Data Sets

November 27, 2006

CHICAGO, IL (November 27, 2006) — A team of experts from the University of Illinois at Chicago's National Center for Data Mining (NCDM), Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University won the 7th annual Bandwidth Challenge held November 16th in Tampa, FL at SC06, the international conference for high performance computing, networking and storage.

They transported the 1.3 TB Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data (SDSS) from the University of Illinois at Chicago to the SC 06 floor at Tampa with a sustained data transfer rate of 8Gb/s over a 10Gb/s link, and a peak rate of 9.18Gb/s.

This was a major new milestone that demonstrated that it is now practical for working scientists to transfer large data sets from disk to disk over long distances from 10 Gb/s network.

Until recently, the easiest way to transport data sets of this size was by using Federal Express, but today's high speed networks and emerging network protocols can now be used to move these massive data sets efficiently.

"Not too long ago it took days to move around such Terabyte datasets. Moving data at such speeds opens up whole new ways of approaching scientific problems. Our collaboration has been a wonderful example of how computer scientists, network experts and astronomers work together to solve real-life problems that will impact our whole discipline," says Alexander Szalay, Alumni Centennial Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University.

The data set was the BESTDR5 catalog data set from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and when compressed consisted of 60 files of about 23 GB each and totaling 1.3 TB.

The technology that made this possible was an open source high performance network transport protocol called UDT that the NCDM developed several years ago. Since then it has been downloaded over 8000 times and is being deployed in a variety of research and business settings.

The technology that made this easy was an open source peer-to-peer storage system called SECTOR that NCDM recently developed. SECTOR is built using UDT and is designed to distribute large e-science data sets such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

"Winning this year's Bandwidth Challenge graphically demonstrates that it is now practical for the working scientist to access terabyte size data sets from anywhere in the world. All it takes are modern high performance networks and new network protocols, such as UDT," said Robert Grossman, Director of the National Center for Data Mining at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Managing Partner of Open Data Group.

The network that made this feasible was a 10 Gb/s network provided by the National Lambda Rail (NLR) called PacketNet.

"By using the National LambdaRail and its member regional optical networks, scientists can access terabyte size data sets in minutes instead of days. This is a great example of what you can do with member-owned infrastructure. We are just beginning to see the implications of this," said Tom West, NLR's president and CEO.

In the past, UDT and other technologies could move data at high speeds but faced challenges when used to move data from disk to disk over long distances (additional protocols and services are required when moving data disk-to-disk versus memory-to-memory). By using SECTOR, it is now possible to transport large data sets from disk-to-disk just as easily as transporting large data sets from memory-to-memory.

"This demonstration showcases new techniques for data analysis by closely integrating application processes with leading edge advanced communication technologies. This innovation is significant because it results in both high performance data transport and in high quality analytic results," says Joe Mambretti, Director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University.

The winning team consisted of Yunhong Gu, Robert Grossman, Michal Sabala, David Hanley and Shirley Connelly from the National Center for Data Mining at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Alex Szalay, Ani Thakar, Jan vandenBerg, and Alainna Wonders from John Hopkins University and Joe Mambretti from Nortwestern University.

For the Bandwidth Challenge, Force 10 loaned the NCDM an E600 switch to use on the show floor; Extreme Networks provided an 8810 switch to use in Chicago; and Data Direct Networks provided a S2A9550 RAID controller and 80 disks to use on the show floor in Tampa.

The technology was tested using the Teraflow Network, which is managed by the Consortium for Data Analysis Research (CDAR).

For more details, see the web site:

For more information:
Shirley Connelly
National Center for Data Mining
University of Illinois at Chicago

About NCDM
The National Center for Data Mining (NCDM) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) was founded in 1998 as a national resource for high performance and distributed data mining. The Center performs research, coordinates standards, operates testbeds, and engages in outreach. The Center coordinates the development of the Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML), a standard for statistical and data mining models, and operates the Teraflow Network, a network for distributing large e-science data sets. For more information about NCDM, see

About National Lambda Rail
National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR) is a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private SECTOR technology companies to provide a national scale infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies and applications. NLR puts the control, the power and the promise of experimental network infrastructure in the hands of our nation's scientists and researchers. Visit for more information.

About SDSS
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is systematically mapping one-quarter of the entire sky, producing images in five colors and determining the positions and brightnesses of more than 200 million celestial objects. The results of the SDSS are available to the scientific community electronically, both as images and as precise database catalogs of all the objects discovered. The SDSS is a joint project of The University of Chicago, Fermilab, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Japan Participation Group, The Johns Hopkins University, the Korean Scientist Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), New Mexico State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the United States Naval Observatory, and the University of Washington. Funding for the creation and distribution of the SDSS Archive has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, and the Max Planck Society.

About JHU
The Johns Hopkins University was the first research university in the United States. Founded in 1876, it was an entirely new educational enterprise. Its aim was not only to advance students' knowledge, but also to advance human knowledge generally, through discovery and scholarship. The university's emphasis on both learning and research-and on how each complements the other-revolutionized U.S. higher education.

About the International Center for Advanced Internet Research
The International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR) accelerates leading-edge innovation and enhanced global communications through advanced Internet technologies, in partnership with international and national research communities. iCAIR designs and implements in prototype new communication services, architecture, technologies, and large scale advanced communications facilities. iCAIR manages StarLight, an international advanced communications exchange in Chicago, in partnership with the Electronic Visualization Lab of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, CANARIE (Canada) and SURFnet6 (Netherlands).

About CDAR
The Consortium for Data Analysis Research (CDAR) is a consortium that is developing new technology and methodologies for working with large, complex and distributed data. The consortium consists of The National Center for Data Mining at The University of Illinois at Chicago, the Computation Institute at University of Chicago, the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University, the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, and the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago.

About Force 10
Force10 Networks(r), the pioneer in building and securing high performance networks, is a long time supporter of the Supercomputing conferences and HPC community. The Force10 TeraScale E-Series is designed to provide the unmatched density and resiliency that ensures predictable application performance. The Force10 TeraScale E600 supports 630 Gigabit and 112 Ten Gigabit Ethernet ports in a single chassis, delivering the high density organizations require to seamlessly scale their networks and reduce the total cost of network ownership.

About Extreme Networks
Extreme Networks pioneered the silicon-based approach to networking, so that networking processes reside in hardware. This approach dramatically outperforms conventional CPU- and software-based routing every time. We originated this concept and continue to lead the industry in every performance category. Extreme is also considered a leader in the area of innovation. For the past three years, Extreme has been shipping the industry's first modular based Operating System known as ExtremeXOS(tm).

Last Updated: 17 February 2010