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The SC internet (SCinet) is the collection of networks designed and built annually for the SCxy Conference. SCinet features a commodity Internet services network (ISnet), a high-performance, production-quality exhibit-floor network, and an extremely high-performance experimental network (Xnet).

SCinet is designed and built by a volunteer staff comprised of highly skilled professionals from high-performance computing sites, network equipment vendors, research networks, and telecommunications carriers. Industry vendors donate much of the hardware and software required to build the SCinet infrastructure while telecommunications providers and the National Research and Agency Networks provide the wide area network circuits that allow SCinet to communicate with the Internet and other Agency networks.

Planning begins more than a year in advance of each Conference and culminates the week preceding the show each year. SCinet consists of three logically separate, but inter-connected, networks. They are the experimental network Xnet, the high-performance exhibit-floor network, and the commodity Internet services network that supports the rest of the Denver Convention Complex. The SCinet exhibit-floor network is a robust, high-performance, production-quality network that Exhibitors, users, and attendees depend on for reliable local-area, wide-area, and commodity network service. This network provides access to high performance Agency networks including Abilene, ATDnet, DREN, ESnet, HSCC, NTON, SuperNet, and vBNS+. In addition, Xnet provides a venue to showcase bleeding-edge technology in which fragility is understood, thus providing vendors and researcher exhibitors an opportunity to demonstrate emerging network gear or capabilities prior to their general commercial availability. This year, Xnet anticipates demonstrating emerging applications that effectively utilize channelized 10 gigabits per second Ethernet and Dense Wave-Division Multiplexed (DWDM) networking. More information on SCinet can be found at . Exhibitors must request connections to the production network using the Exhibitor Connection Request Form, available from the main SCinet web page. All attendees to the SC2001 Conference will also have free access to the commercial Internet via an IEEE 802.11b wireless network that will provide coverage within most of the public areas within the Denver Convention Complex. The wireless network is described more fully at . SCinet will again be hosting the Bandwidth Challenge, designed to measure how well developers utilize high bandwidth, low latency wide area connections. The Bandwidth Challenge is described at http://www.scinet.supercomp.org/2001/bandwidth-challenge.

William Wing, SCinet Chair
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • Co-Chairs Xnet: Dave Koester, Xnet Network Architecture; Chuck Fisher, Network Bandwidth
  • Challenge: Bill Kramer, Performance Monitoring; Greg Goddard, Network Security; Eli Dart
  • Wireless: Thomas Hutton, San Diego Supercomputer Center


Xnet Mission: To provide a venue for showcasing leading-edge, developmental networking technologies and experimental networking applications.

Xnet (eXtreme Net) is the leading edge, network technology development showcase at SCxy-the International Conference for High-Performance Networking and Computing. Every year, the SCinet staff meets the challenge to design and implement the world's leading state-of-the-art production network. The SCinet exhibit floor network has evolved into a robust, high-performance, production-quality network that exhibitors, users, and attendees depend on for reliable local-area, wide-area, and commodity network service. Consequently, it has become increasingly difficult for SCinet to showcase bleeding-edge, potentially fragile technology. Simultaneously, OEMs have at times been reticent about showcasing bleeding-edge hardware in SCinet, as it became a mission-critical, production network.

Xnet provides the solution to this dichotomy by providing a venue that is by definition bleeding-edge, prestandard, and in which fragility is understood. Xnet thus provides vendors and researcher exhibitors an opportunity to showcase emerging network gear or capabilities, before their general commercial availability. Every year, our challenge within SCinet is to raise the bar for network performance. This is especially true of Xnet.

This year Xnet will feature preproduction 10-Gigabit Ethernet technology in a demonstration of the Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF)-the world's first multisite supercomputing system. In August, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $53-million, three-year award to build and operate a virtual machine room or computing facility. The DTF will be developed by a consortium led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Illinois and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) in California. Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in suburban Chicago and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena are also participating in the DTF project. The DTF will perform 13.6-trillion calculations per second and store more than 450 trillion bytes of data, with a comprehensive infrastructure called the "TeraGrid" to link computers, visualization systems, and data at the four sites through a 40-billion bits-per-second optical network.

The Xnet DTF demonstration will build a prototype of the larger distributed capability on the SC2001 showfloor. Separate clusters in the four partners' booths will be connected by 10-Gigabit Ethernet and dense wavelength division multiplex (DWDM) technology. As part of the Xnet demonstration of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the network monitoring team will investigate the use of commercial network monitoring equipment that subscribes to the current draft standard IEEE 802.3ae. A proposed architecture for the SC2001 Xnet DTF demonstration is provided in the diagram below.

Network Bandwidth Challenge

Continuing the tradition started at SC2000, the SCinet team, in cooperation with Level(3) and Qwest, is sponsoring the SC Network Bandwidth Challenge to challenge the research community to demonstrate how the unique network SCinet creates can be used to for exciting applications at the maximum possible speed. Last year, at SC 2000, two applications broke the Gigabit per second limit, with one sustaining almost 100% of the available bandwidth.

This year the challenge is to propose ideas for meaningful applications that fully use the SCinet network infrastructure and capacity and deliver innovative application value on the multiple OC-48 interconnects being supplied by Level(3) and Qwest. In turn, SCinet facilitates access to the networks and might provide space and equipment for demonstrations. Qwest Communications is again contributing prize(s) for the application(s) that the judges believe make the most effective and/or courageous use of SCinet resources. The primary measure of performance will be the verifiable throughput measured from the contestantús booth through the SCinet switches and routers to external connections. SCinet network monitor systems will be used for this measurements. Ten (and maybe more) applications are attempting to both fully utilize (and some claim overwhelm!) the SCinet network infrastructure and deliver innovative application value. Examples of challenging efforts are:

  • A multi-gigabit/s transfer of larger imagery data sets, with dynamic interactive remote Terabyte imagery access, and remote access to high-definition motion imagery data sets (HDTV) using GSN-to-ATM interface
  • A multi-gigabit/s visualization application drawing data from widely distributed resources
  • "Dynamic Right-Sizing" that transparently provides about an order of magnitude more bandwidth than a stock TCP over the WIDE-area network. The Terra Mining Testbed is a globally distributed, wide area data mining testbed
  • Demonstrations of these applications will occur during exhibit hours and the awards will be announced at the Awards session.

Network Performance Monitoring

SCinet is again incorporating a network monitoring infrastructure into the design of this year's network.

Each of the wide-area connections will be passively monitored and statistics collected using multiple Adtech AX/4000s provided by Spirent Communications. These statistics will include total aggregate traffic counts on each of the connections and also total instantaneous traffic counts for use in judging this year's high-bandwidth challenge.

NetFlow data will be collected on supported platforms and visualized using FlowScan, a tool developed by Dave Plonka at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Active monitoring technology developed by the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research (NLANR) Measurement and Analysis Team (MOAT) (an "AMP monitor") and Advanced Network & Services, Inc. (a "Surveyor monitor") will also be deployed.

Cichlid, a 3-D visualization software toolkit developed by Jeff Brown at NLANR, will be set up to facilitate a real-time visualization of network performance data collected from the SCinet NOC and a map Internet2's Abilene network.

NPACI's Network Weather Service sensor nodes will be placed at strategic locations in the SCinet network to provide network feedback to a variety of Distributed Computing applications. Internet2(R) will provide a "weather map" showing current use of all SCinet external links, based on the technology used for the Abilene NOC weather map, developed by the Abilene NOC at Indiana University.

Finally, as part of the Xnet demonstration of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the network monitoring team will investigate the use of commercial network monitoring equipment that subscribes to the current draft standard IEEE 802.3ae.

Network Security

The characteristics that define the SCinet production network include high bandwidth, low latency, resiliency, and scalability. SCinet peers with the Internet, agency, and national networks through a series of very high speed connections. To maximize performance across these interfaces, there are no firewalls. The SCinet network is a logical, albeit temporary, extension of the open Internet, and exhibitors and attendees are reminded that, in this potentially hostile environment, security is a collective responsibility.

The SCinet wireless network, available to all attendees at no cost, is particularly vulnerable by its very nature. Wireless networks are open to snooping by anyone within range of an access point. The use of insecure applications such as TELNET, POP or FTP is very strongly discouraged. These applications are subject to compromise because they send passwords to remote hosts in human readable cleartext. Each attendee is responsible for ensuring that their communication sessions be protected in accordance with their security requirements. Attendees are encouraged to protect their sessions through a mechanism such as Secure Shell (SSH), where all communication is encrypted. SSH implementations are widely available for little or no cost and are straightforward to install and use.

SCinet will passively monitor traffic on most external network connections as part of their network monitoring activities. In addition, SCinet has a restricted capability to monitor exhibit floor and external network traffic for evidence of security-related activity including compromise or abuse. However, by no means should this be considered a substitute for safe security practives. Please do your part by being cognizant of network security risks and protecting your systems and sessions.


Working with Cisco Systems, SCinet is creating a large 11 Mbps wireless network at the Denver Convention Complex including the exhibit floor, the Education Program area, and other locations covering the entire SC2001 conference area. In addition we plan on supporting wireless networking in the area immediately surrounding the Denver Convention Complex. This wireless network will support the Education Program among other things.

The wireless network is connected to the SCinet commodity network (and the Internet), the high-performance show floor network, and several national Agency networks. There is no connectivity between the wireless network and XNET.

This wireless network is available for use by all conference attendees. This network will utilize standards-based 802.11b network with DHCP service. Attendees with laptops equipped with standards-compliant wireless EtherNet cards, and an operating system which will configure network services as a client of DHCP should have immediate connectivity. A selection of cards and operating systems known to work are listed on the SCinet web page along with links to vendors, drivers, and instructions. SCinet personnel will not be able to provide direct support to attendees who have trouble connecting. All Conference attendees may take advantage of the wireless service. There is no charge for its use. All wireless services are provided on an as-is basis unless otherwise noted.

SCinet hopes to have wireless cards available for purchase at the SC2001 store. SCinet will not be providing wireless cards for individual systems. SCinet does not support setup, configuration and/or diagnosis of individual systems, but will provide links to information about these subjects at the web site.

The priority areas supported for wireless are the exhibit areas, education area, convention complex lobby, meeting rooms, and other spaces. If limits are necessary, we will attempt to indicate range and limits with signage. SCinet will monitor the health of the wireless network and maintain this information for exhibitors and attendees. SCinet control of the 2.4GHz frequency radio spectrum: In order to provide as robust a wireless service as possible, SCinet must control the entire 2.4GHz frequency radio spectrum (2.412GHz to 2.482 GHz) within the Denver Convention Complex. This has important implications for both Exhibitors and attendees:

  • Exhibitors and attendees may not operate their own wireless EtherNet access points anywhere within the Colorado Convention Center, including within their own booth.
  • Exhibitors and attendees may not operate 2.4GHz cordless phones. Exhibitors and attendees may not operate 2.4GHz wireless video or security cameras, or any other equipment transmitting in the 2.4GHz spectrum.
  • Successful wireless operation is a community responsibility. SCinet wants you to have a successful, pleasant experience at SC2001. This should include the ability to sit down with your wireless-equipped laptop and check e-mail or surf the Web from anywhere in the wireless coverage area. Please help us achieve this goal by not operating equipment that will interfere with other users. SCinet reserves the right to disconnect any equipment that interferes with the SCinet network.

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