iCAIR Press Releases

I-Wire Activation First Step to National Teragrid Network

From GRIDtoday, July 22, 2002

A new network infrastructure connecting the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the StarLight facility on Northwestern University's Chicago campus, and Argonne National Laboratory in southwest suburban Chicago is the first connection in what will become the TeraGrid network, the fastest dedicated optical research network in the world.

The two 10 gigabit-per-second connections came online early this summer with the activation of the state of Illinois' I-WIRE project. The event positions Illinois as the leader in providing the bandwidth needed to support high-performance information infrastructures, or grids. I-WIRE (Illinois Wired/Wireless Infrastructure for Research and Education) is a fiber optic data network funded by the state of Illinois that connects research institutions in the state, including Argonne, NCSA, University of Illinois campuses in Chicago and Urbana-Champaign, the University of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.

I-WIRE also connects to StarLight, a global experimental optical network exchange facility, to the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN), and to the Illinois Century Network (ICN), which provides Internet access to more than 5,600 Illinois schools, libraries, and other public institutions.

By late summer, the NCSA-StarLight-Argonne links will be upgraded to at least 30 gigagbits per second (Gb/s) as part of the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid project. The TeraGrid will be the largest, most comprehensive computing infrastructure ever created for scientific research and will link more than 16 teraflops of computing power, more than 1,000 terabytes (1 petabyte) of storage, and advanced visualization environments, all integrated as a grid system. TeraGrid sites include NCSA, Argonne, the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, the Center for Advanced Computing Research at the California Institute of Technology, and the recently added Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center.

Through a partnership with Qwest Communications, the TeraGrid sites will connect to a central backbone network running at 40 Gb/s between StarLight and the major Internet hub in Los Angeles. At 40 Gb/s, the TeraGrid network will operate at four times the capacity of today's fastest networks for research and education. Only a very few of these networks operate at even 10 Gb/s.

"Through I-WIRE, we have taken the first step in deploying the network that will connect the TeraGrid sites, creating an unparalleled national capability for computational scientists," said Charlie Catlett, a senior fellow in Argonne's mathematics and computer science division, principal investigator for the I-WIRE project, and executive director for the TeraGrid project. "At the same time, I-WIRE creates opportunities for many projects, both via what we have recently deployed and also through planned experiments with more advanced systems capable of transmitting multiple terabits per second."

The new connections use Juniper Networks' recently released T640 high-speed Internet routers and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) optical equipment from Ciena Corporation. DWDM technology splits data carried on optical fibers into different wavelengths, or channels, allowing the transmission of hundreds of channels on a single fiber strand. The new NCSA-StarLight-Argonne links have the ability to utilize 66 channels, which translates into 660 Gb/s of network capacity. I-WIRE is now installing a second such system in the Chicago area to connect other I-WIRE sites, using StarLight as the hub.

"We are now well on our way to implementing the network infrastructure that will transform the way scientists conduct research. It's a major step forward for 21st century scientific research, and Illinois is once again a leader." said Dan Reed, director of NCSA and principal investigator for the TeraGrid project. "In the weeks ahead, we will establish a similar connection between TeraGrid sites in Illinois and California. As new resources become available, this network will be the 'superhighway' used to access them."

"The development of I-WIRE keeps Illinois at the forefront of optical networks," said Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan. "The state's investment in this type of high-performance computing network allows TeraGrid and other projects to benefit not only Illinois but the world in research opportunities."

For more on I-WIRE, see http://www.i-wire.org.

For more on the TeraGrid project, see http://www.teragrid.org.

For more on StarLight, see http://www.startap.net/starlight.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a leader in developing and deploying cutting-edge high-performance computing, networking, and information technologies. NCSA is a partner in the TeraGrid project, a National Science Foundation initiative to build and deploy the world's largest, fastest, most comprehensive, distributed infrastructure for open scientific research. NCSA also leads the National Computational Science Alliance (Alliance), a partnership to prototype an advanced computational infrastructure for the 21st century that includes more than 50 academic, government, and industry research partners. The NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program funds the Alliance. In addition to the NSF, NCSA receives support from the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, private sector partners, and other federal agencies. For more information, see http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu.

The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies and numerous federal agencies and other organizations to help advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for the future. Argonne is operated by the University of Chicago as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's national laboratory system. For more information, see http://www.mcs.anl.gov.

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