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InTheLoop Extra: Lab Wins 2nd Bandwidth Challenge | 11.16.2001

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences employees.

November 16, 2001

Colliding Black Holes, Dancers, and Electron Microscopy Push Network

Boundaries by Moving Billions of Bits in Network Bandwidth Challenge at

SC2001 Conference


DENVER, Colo. - For the second year in a row, a team led by
high-performance computing experts from the U.S. Department of Energy's
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory took top honors in a contest to
move the most data across the network built around SC, the annual
conference of high-performance computing and networking which concludes
Nov. 16. The winning application was a live visualization of a
simulation of colliding black holes.

An intercontinental collaborative performance organized by the
University of Florida's Digital Worlds Institute, featuring dancers in
Denver, Minneapolis and Florida accompanied by musicians in Brazil, took
the prize for the "Most Courageous and Creative" effort. A team from the
San Diego Supercomputer Center and the University of California at San
Diego using the network to remotely operate an electron microscope was
recognized for having the "Best Network-Enabled Application."

SC2001, held this week in Denver, marked the second staging of the
Bandwidth Challenge in which researchers with high-bandwidth
applications were invited to push the network infrastructure's
multi-gigabit links to their limits with demonstrations of leading-edge
computer applications. During the 2001 Network Bandwidth Challenge,
teams of researchers from around the world used SCinet, the conference
fiber-optic network, to demonstrate applications using huge amounts of
distributed data.

For the conference, the SCinet team assembled a special network
infrastructure that featured a 14.5 gigabit wide-area network connection
over multiple OC-48 links to the exhibit floor and connections to most
high-speed national research networks.

"The network is often overlooked in terms of its contribution to
enabling scientific discovery in areas of interest to such research
organizations as the Department of Energy, and to advancing
communication and understanding around the world," said Walt Polansky,
one of the competition judges and acting director of DOE's Mathematical,
Information and Computational Sciences Division. "This Network Bandwidth
Challenge shines the spotlight on the network and the people who operate
and push network technologies, and provides an opportunity to
demonstrate innovative applications across all disciplines."
The Network Bandwidth Challenge was held under the theme of "Veni, Vidi,
Conexui Maxime," Latin for "I came, I saw, I connected to the max."
The Berkeley Lab team, which included collaborators in Illinois and
Germany, created a live visualization of a simulation of colliding black
holes computed in real time at supercomputing centers in Berkeley,
Calif., and Champaign, Illinois. This required the integration of
computational tools in many disciplines. The team achieved a sustained
network performance level of 3.3 gigabits per second (3.3 billion bits
of data).

Judges commented that the team's application was a useful tool for
allowing scientists to view results from their data stored at distant
and dispersed computing sites.

The courageous and creative winner, "Dancing Beyond Boundaries," moved
about 30 million bits of data per second. The project was designed to
"explore whether internationally distributed dancers, musicians, graphic
artists, videographers, and choreographers can create, rehearse, and
perform a new collaborative work using the Internet2, multiple
network-conferencing nodes and a select number of high quality video and
audio streams." Judges praised the ability of participants to adapt to a
new medium, overcoming logistical, artistic and language hurdles.

The judges added a third category for the "Best Network-Enabled
Application" to recognize the "Telescience Video and Data Services"
project. The application, which achieved sustained performance of moving
32 megabits (millions of bits) of data over the network, sought to move
data in new ways, as opposed to trying to move the most data. The group
transferred a live video stream from a high-energy transmission electron
microscope in San Diego to the demonstration floor in Denver. One judge
noted, "This application was head and shoulders above the others in
terms of using a network to integrate and deliver an effective
application."

The competition was sponsored in part by Qwest Telecommunications.
"Qwest is pleased to support the Network Bandwidth Challenge for the
second year in a row," said Wesley Kaplow, chief technology officer for
Qwest Government Systems. "The diversity of applications, from art to
physics to remote control of an electron microscope, truly shows the
power enabled by gigabit networks."

The SC2001 conference concluded its seven-day run on Friday, Nov. 16.
Next year's SC conference will be held Nov. 16-22 in Baltimore.


About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 7,000-plus scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are Department of Energy Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.