CANARIE to build 8000km wavelength disk drive

Feb. 9, 2001
CANARIE, a Canadian Internet development organization, announced a plan to construct what they claim will be the world's largest "disk drive," called a Wavelength Disk Drive.

CANARIE, a Canadian Internet development organization, announced a plan to construct what they claim will be the world's largest "disk drive," called a Wavelength Disk Drive, which will be constructed around wavelengths of light on CANARIE's national optical research network, CA net 3. The wavelength disk drive will be more than 8000 km in diameter.

Instead of having the computers send and receive data from each other—which slows the collaborative effort down to the slowest computer or slowest network link—the computers will simply read and write the data to the optical network as if it were one large, shared disk drive. Because the intrinsic carrying capacity of a multi-wavelength optical network like CANARIE's CA net 3 is so large, it acts as a gigantic, nation-wide optical storage device. Since all the participating computers will have ready access to all the data circulating on the network, their collective ability to solve problems quickly will be greatly enhanced.

This use of optical networks has immediate applications in such collaborative research fields as environmental modeling, genomic and pharmaceutical simulations and astrophysics, to name a few. The implications of this concept to telecommunications carriers could be equally significant. Purchasing a super computer in the future might involve buying optical wavelengths from a favorite carrier just as silicon chip based machines are purchased from computer manufacturers. This use of optical network technology could also become an important use for unused bandwidth. No longer would networks be simply a means of computers exchanging data directly with each another; the network will be the computer.

CANARIE will be deploying a proof-of-concept wavelength optical disk drive on its CA net 3 network over the next few months. The capacity of this trial disk drive is expected to be several gigabytes.

About CANARIE Inc.:

CANARIE Inc. is a non-profit Canadian Internet development organization dedicated to accelerating the development of Canada's Internet and the creation of innovative applications that exploit the power of that infrastructure to benefit Canadians. CANARIE is a catalyst for advancements in areas such as "fiber optic networks", "fiber to the home networks", "DWDM", "bandwidth revolution", "customer-owned fiber networks", "affordable bandwidth", "dark-fiber networks", E-Learning and telemedicine. For more information, visit

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