Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) set a new land-speed record for Internet2, a second-generation network serving universities and research institutes.
The team, which included folks from AMD (Quote, Chart), Cisco (Quote, Chart), Microsoft Research, Newisys, and S2io, transferred 859 gigabytes of data in less than 17 minutes.
It did so at a rate of 6.63 gigabits per second (define) between the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland, and Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., a distance of more than 15,766 kilometers, or approximately 9,800 miles.
Scientists are racing to move gigantic amounts of data by 2007, when CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will switch on.
This huge underground particle accelerator will produce some 15 petabytes (define) of data a year, which will be stored and analyzed on a global grid of computer centers.
High-energy physicists are excited about the LHC because they hope it will allow them to find the Higgs boson, a theoretical particle that they believe creates mass.
“Physicists are trying to fill in the blank spaces in our model of high energy physics,” said Jim Gray a Microsoft Research engineer who helped set Wednesday’s record.
But this $10 billion collider will be of little use if scientists around the world can’t access the data.
Researchers aren’t the only ones excited about blazing data speeds. This record speed of 6.63Gbps is equivalent to transferring a full-length DVD movie in four seconds.
There are uses in astronomy, bioinformatics, global climate modeling and seismology, as well as commercial applications from entertainment to oil and gas exploration.
Internet2 is fast — Abilene, a U.S. cross-country backbone network, blasts data at 10Gbps. But transoceanic networking is another story. There are hardware and software issues to overcome, Gray said.
For example, one limiting factor is that the fastest available interface for PCs is the PCIX64 Bus Isolation Extender, which can only handle 7.5Gbps.
The land-speed test is part of an ongoing R&D; program to create high-speed global networks as the foundation of next-generation, data-intensive grids with a goal of transferring data at 1Gbps.
The performance also is the first record to break the 100-petabit meter per second mark. One petabit is 1,000,000,000,000,000 bits (define). That may seem like an almost inconceivably large number, but Gray said storing petabits of data is a fact of life for many large corporations. He said Microsoft has about 5 petabits of data, and he estimates Google and Yahoo store that much, as well.
“If you have a million customers and they each have a gigabyte of storage, that’s a petabit,” he said.