Energy completes science network upgrade

ESnet ready for Large Hadron Collider data

The Energy Department has completed an upgrade of its network for sharing scientific data among its labs and academic institutions, just in time to start receiving data from the world's largest particle accelerator.

DOE has doubled the capacity of the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) from 10 gigabits/sec to 20 gigabits/sec, said Steve Cotter, who is ESnet department head at the agency's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Work on the upgrade began last fall.

The network has also started using a new set of protocols, called the On-demand Secure Circuits and Advance Reservation System. It allows researchers and other network users to reserve bandwidth — in effect, setting up a virtual circuit. OSCARS is based on Multiprotocol Label Switching.

ESnet connects more than 40 DOE research sites nationwide and provides a gateway to 100 other research and education networks. For the upgrade, ESnet deployed MX-series Ethernet services routers and EX 4200 series Ethernet switches from Juniper Networks.

One of the biggest sources of data for the network will be the Large Hadron Collider operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. The collider has been plagued by a number of technical glitches, which pushed its start date from last fall to sometime early this year. The data the collider generates will be downloaded for further study to DOE labs and academic institutions.

Cotter said ESnet will also handle large datasets from DOE supercomputers, particularly those used for advanced weather modeling. For instance, Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently upgraded its Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, which is used for studies of global climate change, among other activities. It is one of the fastest computers in the world.

ESnet officials estimate that by 2010, the Large Hadron Collider will produce 100 gigabits/sec of data that DOE labs will need to access.

They are working with the Internet2 coalition of universities and a number of computer equipment vendors to establish a 100 Gigabit Ethernet test bed in anticipation of the greater bandwidth demands.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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