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ESnet Leaps Ahead By Two Generations, Upgrades Backbone to 10 Gbps

March 18, 2003

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), the high-performance network funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, has just completed an upgrade to 2.5gigabits (billions of bits or Gbps) per second and 10Gbps in the highest speed portion of the network.

Typically, a new generation of data communications bandwidth consists of a fourfold increase in performance. ESnet’s new 10Gbps circuits represent an increase of 16 times existing performance levels, representing a jump of two typical generations of bandwidth upgrades

Operated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet is a nation-wide, high-performance network supporting scientific research, connecting more than 35 major DOE institutions to each other and to the global Internet. This upgrade will contribute to the acceleration of basic scientific research sponsored by the DOE Office of Science.

”DOE programmatic research requirements for networking have steadily grown since 1992 at a rate of 100 percent per year,” said James Leighton, the ESnet Project Manager at Berkeley Lab. “With that growth in traffic, ESnet will be required to handle more traffic this year than in the previous 10 years combined.”

The network upgrade was approved and funded by the Office of Science, Mathematical, Information and Computational Sciences Division to position ESnet to stay ahead of this exponential growth in traffic for the next several years, Leighton said.

Qwest Communications International provides the high-speed circuits to ESnet as fiber-based wavelength services, carrying the high-speed data over a single beam of light. Before the bandwidth upgrade was put into production, ESnet staff thoroughly tested the quality and reliability of the circuits.

“We were able to test the circuits at full speed, in both directions, over more than a thousand miles for a consecutive 24-hour period without a single error,” said Leighton, who has led ESnet since it was established in 1985. “This was a truly stunning level of both performance and reliability and better than we could have hoped to achieve.”

ESnet enhances the research capabilities of scientists in all DOE mission areas by providing a dedicated, high-speed network for accessing high-performance computing centers, experimental facilities and remote research sites. ESnet also advances collaborative research by providing an integrated set of easy-to-use applications for video-, audio- and data-conferencing by multiple users and sites.

"We at Qwest are delighted with this major upgrade of the Energy Sciences Network," said Dr. Wesley K. Kaplow, chief technology officer for Qwest Government Services Division. "Qwest has been providing the majority of services for ESnet since 2000, and has enabled ESnet to continue to successfully improve its network via a series of technology upgrades – starting with high-performance ATM, moving to SONET, and now to 10 Gbps wavelength services.  Also, Qwest's investment in building fiber directly to nearly all of the major DOE facilities has enabled this high performance backbone to reach the customer and not just a POP."

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Computing Sciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials, and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world, and our universe.

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’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 energy.gov/science.