StarLight: Optical Switching for the Global Grid
Tom DeFanti, University of Illinois
STAR TAP, a persistent infrastructure to facilitate the long-term interconnection and interoperability of advanced international networking, has demonstrated the importance of providing advanced digital communication services to a worldwide scientific research community. However, there are clear indications that 21st-century grid-intensive "e-Science" applications will require a networked "cyber-infrastructure" and set of services that are more sophisticated, with much higher capacity potential and substantially higher performance. The University of Illinois at Chicago, in collaboration with Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory, and in partnership with CANARIE (Canada) and SURFnet (Holland), is now creating the Optical STAR TAP, or StarLight at www.startap.net/starlight.
StarLight is an advanced optical infrastructure and proving ground for network services optimized for high-performance applications. The StarLight facility, operational in the summer of 2001, is located on Northwestern University's downtown campus at 710 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. StarLight provides the applications-centric network research community with a Chicago-based co-location facility with enough space, power, air conditioning and fiber to engage in next-generation optical network and application research and development activities. StarLight's architecture is designed to be distributable among opportune carrier points of presence, university campuses, and carrier meet points. And, because optical networks allow for a far greater degree of network configuration flexibility than existing networks, StarLight will provide the required tools and techniques for (university and government laboratory) customer-controlled 10 Gigabit network flows to be switched and routed to research networks and commercial networks, empowering applications to dynamically adjust and optimize network resources. StarLight welcomes the academic and commercial communities to work with us to create a global proving ground in support of grid-intensive e-Science applications, network performance measurement and analysis, and computing and networking technology evaluations.
Evolution of Supercomputing Networks- from Kilobits to Terabits
Charlie Catlett, Aragonne National Laboratory
Just over 15 years ago the National Science Foundation created NSFNET, a 56 Kb/s backbone network that connected a half dozen supercomputer centers. Ten years ago, the US Gigabit Testbeds Initiative was unveiling prototype networks running at between 600 Mb/s and 1.2 Gb/s, with the most interesting application. Within five years, supercomputer centers were connected at 155 Mb/s with networks such as vBNS and ESnet. Today there are backbone networks running at 2.5 Gb/s with many talking of upgrading to 10 Gb/s. Catlett will talk about two projects attempting to push beyond the 10 Gb/s barrier. First is NSF's Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF) interconnect, which involves a partnership between Qwest Communications, Argonne National Laboratory, NCSA, Caltech, SDSC, and the Internet2 project. The DTF interconnect will couple the four high performance computing centers at 40 Gb/s in early 2002. Second is the State of Illinois "Illinois Wired/Wireless Infrastructure for Research and Education," or I-WIRE. I-WIRE is an optical network that provides both dark fiber and lambda services between six institutions in Illinois (including Argonne and NCSA), providing optical connectivity for the Starlight project as well as connectivity to multiple carrier exchange points in Chicago.