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ESnet Completes Construction of Dynamic Science Data Network for Researchers

November 17, 2008

 Contact: Linda Vu, 510-495-2402, LVu@lbl.gov

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Science Network (ESnet) has just completed hardware installations for the nation’s first dynamic circuit network dedicated solely to scientific research, called the Science Data Network (SDN).

Preparing for Prime Time: John Paul Jones (standing, left), Chris Cavallo (stand

Preparing for Prime Time: John Paul Jones (standing, left), Chris Cavallo (standing, right) and Scott Mason (kneeling) interconnect test routers for ESnet's Science Data Network at a staging area in Berkeley, California before deploying the equipment on the network's nationwide backbone.

“SDN provides the means to dynamically provision guaranteed, high-capacity bandwidth between any two science facilities for DOE researchers to access time-sensitive applications and exchange large datasets. This on-demand hybrid packet/circuit-switched network capability is currently not available commercially, so we built our own unique network to meet the demanding requirements of the research and education community,” says Steve Cotter, Department Head for ESnet.

This new network consisting of multiple 10-gigabit optical circuits, each capable of transferring the equivalent of 500 hours of digital music per second, has extensive reach and enables close collaboration among DOE laboratories and research facilities across the United States, as well as scientists using international research networks in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and South America.

“As science trends toward fewer but larger, more sophisticated scientific instruments, collaborations become increasingly more distributed and the ability to move large volumes of data from point to point across dedicated channels becomes more important,” says Cotter. “SDN provides that.”

According to Joe Burrescia, ESnet General Manger, SDN was conceived and built by ESnet network engineers as a dedicated platform for the DOE’s On-Demand Secure Circuits and Advance Reservation System (OSCARS) — a network service that lets users reserve bandwidth for latency-sensitive, or time-sensitive, high-speed data transfers.

Before the completion of SDN, DOE researchers used OSCARS to reserve bandwidth on ESnet’s Internet Protocol (IP) network, which also handles day to day operational traffic like e-mails and video conferencing. Because an IP network is connected to many computers and can have multiple endpoints, information traveling on this “highway” must pass through a number of “gateways,” or routers, to ensure that it reaches its destination. However, like a toll road during rush hour, the flow of information can slow down significantly when there is a lot of traffic on the IP network.

According to Jim Gagliardi, Technical Lead of ESnet’s Operations and Deployment Group, SDN works like an expressway, providing an uncongested path between two end points. Researchers now have a network resource available to them that is optimized for moving large datasets across the wide area network from one remote host to another.

“Our traffic models show that the exponential growth of data traffic for scientific communities like high-energy physics and climate change will soon overwhelm our high-speed IP network. By deploying SDN, ESnet is able to move this traffic off of the IP network and onto this highly-scalable infrastructure,” says Burrescia.

ESnet’s IP and SDN networks together make up ESnet4, the DOE’s next-generation science data transport network. To expand the network’s reach and increase site redundancy, eight new hub locations were also added to ESnet4. The new sites include Boise, Idaho; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; El Paso, Tex.; Houston, Tex.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and New York City, N.Y. ESnet4 now has 19 hub locations across the country, as well as a presence at most major peering facilities.

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 6,000 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 DOE 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.