10-Gigabit Ethernet powers new Australian "super network"

January 28, 2002--The first Australian trial of "super network" technology, capable of transmitting data at 10-Gbits/sec, was successfully concluded last Thursday with the demonstration of an advanced virtual reality environment that allows users to physically touch and manipulate virtual objects.

The first Australian trial of "super network" technology, capable of transmitting data at 10-Gbits/sec, was successfully concluded last Thursday with the demonstration of an advanced virtual reality environment that allows users to physically touch and manipulate virtual objects. CSIRO, Nortel Networks, and Agilent Technologies developed the trial as part of the CeNTIE (Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy) project.

The 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE) technology enabled real-time transmission of a combination of technologies that combine 3D images with an artificial sense of touch known as "haptics." Together, these technologies allow users in different locations to work together and "feel" a virtual 3D object while communicating on a studio quality video link. This networked virtual environment technology, developed by CSIRO scientists, could enable a surgeon, for example, to perform advanced training of doctors in remote locations.

These types of systems require transmission of enormous volumes of data with extreme accuracy. In the trial, the virtual reality applications were successfully used while the network simultaneously carried a volume of traffic equivalent to Sydney's telephone system operating at peak levels.

"This demonstration shows us what the combination of our network and advanced applications will be capable of," contends Dr. Dean Economou, chief technologist for CeNTIE. "These new applications have demanding timing and bandwidth requirements--the information load on the network is enormous. Like our city road networks, to avoid delays and gridlock, the network must separate traffic with high priority and direct it to the express lane."

The demonstration involved networking a virtual environment from two separate sites, CSIRO's Virtual Environments laboratory at the Australian National University and CSIRO's corporate headquarters several kilometers away.

Participants were invited to share a CSIRO developed virtual environment and collaborate with remote users. Nortel Networks' 10-GbE equipment supported the applications while Agilent Technologies' RouterTester test equipment generated simulated traffic to fully saturate and stress the network under a variety of 'real-world" trial scenarios.

"The performance of the haptic system and studio quality video were perfectly preserved despite the system being over-loaded with other traffic," says Dr Economou. "To do this we had to overcome various engineering challenges, the most important being able to put such high level applications together with our network," says Dr Economou.

In coming months, CeNTIE expects to apply 10-Gbps Ethernet technology to film post-production, tele-collaboration and advanced health services.

The CeNTIE project is supported by the Commonwealth through the Building on IT Strengths (BITS) Advanced Networks Program (ANP) of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.


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