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Press Release: SLAC Scientists Help Set Data Transfer Speed Record

Date Issued: February 07, 2003


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Data transfer imageTransmit 6.7 Gigabytes of data — the data equivalent of 4 hours of DVD-quality movies — across 7000 miles in less than a minute? Can do.

The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) is part of an international relay team that was recently awarded a certified data transfer speed record by the Internet2 consortium. The team transferred un-compressed data at 923 megabits per second for 58 seconds from Sunnyvale to Amsterdam — a distance of almost 6,800 miles, or about 1/4th of the way around the world. This transfer speed is more than 3500 times as fast as a typical home Internet broadband connection.

"This new world record for SLAC is an example of an Office of Science laboratory working collaboratively with industry to drive forward worldwide high-speed data transfer," said Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Director of the Energy Department's Office of Science. "It underlines the tradition in particle physics of groundbreaking work in manipulation and transfer of enormous datasets."

Known practical benefactors of such high speed data transfer include, as Les Cottrell, assistant director of the SLAC Computer Services noted, "…doctors at multiple sites sharing and discussing a patient's cardio-angiographs to diagnose and plan treatment, or disaster recovery experts sharing information across the globe in near real-time to develop recovery and relief plans." Intended to deliver much more than merely a faster Web or email, these new technologies augment new applications such as digital libraries, virtual laboratories and distance learning.

Internet2 is a consortium of 200 universities working in a worldwide partnership with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies, accelerating the creation of tomorrow's Internet. Thus, Internet2 is a "next generation Internet" intended to connect and serve research and educational institutions at transmission speeds that allow near-instant transfer of, for instance, multiple medical images consisting of hundreds of megabytes of data.

The record-setting team consisted of staff from the SLAC, Caltech, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics and High Energy Physics (NIKHEF) in Amsterdam and the Faculty of Science of the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

The record-setting international transmission also used the advanced networking capabilities of TeraGrid, StarLight, SURFnet, NetherLight, Cisco and Level 3 Communications. Cisco loaned $1M of equipment for several months, and Level 3 provided the network and bandwidth supporting the research. "Level 3's network infrastructure is ideally suited to expeditiously provide scalable bandwidth to the research community," says Paul Fernes, director of business development for Level 3.

"We are very pleased to have been able to participate in this record-setting effort. Working in collaboration with advanced research laboratories such as SLAC and Caltech presented Cisco with an invaluable opportunity to utilize its switches and routers at the very frontiers of networking technologies," says Tony Bates, vice president and general manager, High-End Routing Business Unit at Cisco Systems.

The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) is one of the world 's leading research laboratories. Its mission is to design, construct and operate state-of-the-art electron accelerators and related experimental facilities for use in high-energy physics and synchrotron radiation research.

The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the steward of 10 laboratories in the national laboratory system.

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