Berkeley Lab and Internet2 to build 100-Gbps prototype scientific network

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Internet2 have entered into an agreement to build for the Department of Energy an advanced scientific network, intended to accelerate U.S. competitiveness in science and technology.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Internet2 have entered into an agreement to build for the Department of Energy an advanced scientific network, intended to accelerate U.S. competitiveness in science and technology.

The new network will be built by Berkeley Lab’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) for its Advanced Networking Initiative (ANI), a $62 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) grant.

Under the agreement, ESnet and Internet2 engineers will construct and operate a 100-Gbps (gigabit per second) ANI prototype network using one of the first national-scale deployments of 100 Gigabit Ethernet technology. The ANI prototype network will significantly increase the information-carrying capacity of ESnet’s present network, which uses 10-Gbps technology.

“The ANI prototype is a crucial step forward to a future nationwide 100-Gbps production network that will connect DOE scientists with unprecedented network capabilities to conduct data-intensive research and collaborations, bolstering U.S. scientific innovation in areas that will impact society, such as climate studies, clean fuels, particle physics, and genomics,” explains Steve Cotter, ESnet department head. “The agreement extends a strong working relationship between Internet2 and ESnet to provide the research and education community with the most robust networking resources to meet its current and future needs.”

The Internet2 advanced networking consortium provides a national high-performance network connecting America’s universities and research institutions worldwide. Berkeley Lab-based ESnet’s national network connects DOE scientists at more than 40 different U.S. laboratory and supercomputing facilities, linking them to collaborators around the world.

To build the national network, Internet2 will use fiber strands on Level 3 Communications’ Tier 1 fiber-optic network. ESnet will also have the option to access 4.4 terabits per second (Tbps) of capacity for the ESnet ANI network using Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform. Ciena officials have also revealed that this collaboration will take advantage of the 100-Gbps capabilities of its ActivFlex 6500 platform.

The ESnet ANI prototype network initially will connect three DOE unclassified supercomputing centers: the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Berkeley Lab, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) in Tennessee, and Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) in Illinois, as well as the Manhattan Landing International Exchange Point (MANLAN) in New York.

During the prototype phase, the network will be used for applications and networking research, including connecting the Magellan cloud computing resources at NERSC to ALCF, and the Acadia project, which will develop network interface controller (NIC) hardware and device-driver/protocol-specific software for host and gateway systems operating at 40 and 100 Gbps. The prototype network also will serve as a platform for building out an eventual 1-terabit per second wavelength network.

The prototype network is expected to help not only accelerate development and wider deployment of 100-Gbps technologies, but also improve U.S. competitiveness in science and technology innovation leading to the development and commercialization of future technologies.

“Research network traffic is growing at twice the rate of commercial Internet traffic, and the trend is expected to accelerate as the scope of scientific collaborations increases and scientists around the world draw data from geographically dispersed experimental facilities like the Large Hadron Collider,” says Dave Lambert, Internet2 president and CEO. “Increasing the capacity of networks is more important than ever to enable scientists to analyze data, collaborate, and combine data sets in new ways from these experiments. Working together with Berkeley Lab to build more capable networks like the ANI prototype will provide researchers with richer services that will increase scientific productivity and shorten the time to discovery for the innovations needed to confront the challenges facing our society today.”

“To bring ANI online, we are working together to dramatically increase both the capacity and the reach of our networks in a mutually beneficial way,” Cotter adds. “By combining resources and expertise, we are realizing unprecedented synergies, making both of our investment dollars go further.”

“The ANI project benefits our nation in two important ways,” says Mike Aquino, senior vice president of Ciena’s Global Field Organization. “First, it delivers next-generation infrastructure to enable new connectivity and applications for government, research and education, and enterprises, fulfilling a key goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Second, and just as importantly, it helps advance our understanding of the world and universe by enabling closer and richer collaboration among ESnet's scientific community.”

Berkeley Lab, in the spirit of collaboration between the national lab and university communities, will make its dark fiber assets available to DOE researchers and Internet2 university members for disruptive network research efforts, critical for enabling breakthrough networking technologies. In doing so, scientists can build testbeds at scale to experiment with new network protocols and paradigms in ways not previously possible, says a representative.

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