2011 Significant Efforts

NASA and Partners to Demonstrate 40- and 100-Gigabit Network Technologies at SC11

NASA and a team of federal, university and vendor partners will be demonstrating significant local- and wide-area file transfers using 40- and 100-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) network technologies at SC11, the international conference on high-performance computing, networking, storage and analysis, November 14-17, 2011.

The "Live, Real-Time Demonstrations of 40-to-100-Gbps File Transfers Across Wide-Area Networks" will run across several exhibits connected to SC11's SCinet inside the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle and to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Md. and other U.S. locations. The demonstrations are part of the SCinet Research Sandbox (SRS) featuring six large-scale networking projects.

"At NASA and other agencies, datasets continue to grow at an accelerated rate in both size and number," said Bill Fink, acting project manager for GSFC's High-End Computer Networking (HECN) Team. "As the community collecting and sharing data also expands, the need for effective methods of moving these datasets becomes even more urgent. Our team continually works with data-rich organizations such as the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) and the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO) in researching and implementing leading-edge data transfer techniques."

Building upon the success of its SC10 demos, and by utilizing next-generation PCIe Gen3-capable Supermicro motherboards, Intel Xeon "Sandy Bridge" processors with quad channels to memory and faster-performing raid controllers and solid state disks, the HECN Team has achieved significantly higher disk-to-disk network data transfers at an even lower cost.

The NASA team's SC11 demonstrations will feature advanced approaches to full-duplex 40- and 100-Gbps networking across the SRS infrastructure among the exhibits of NASA (booth # 615), Ciena (booth # 635), the University of Illinois at Chicago Laboratory for Advanced Computing/Northwestern University International Center for Advanced Internet Research (booth # 2615) and the SCinet Network Operations Center (booth # 1734). These connections will be network-stressed tested by HECN Team-built, relatively inexpensive, network-test workstations.

NASA's overall objective with these demonstrations and ongoing experiments is to determine optimal hardware, software and network protocol system configurations to obtain maximum user throughput performance. In addition to HECN, the NASA team consists of the NCCS Advanced Development Team from GSFC and the NASA Research and Education Network Team from Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Ca. They are working with traditional and new or emerging disk-to-disk file-transfer utilities over multi-10-Gbps and 100-Gbps wide-area networks.

"High-speed large file transfers are a challenge in the local environment, but they become significantly more complicated in the wide-area environment," Fink said. "Even though 100-gigabit links are now available, most users still achieve only a few megabits per second with their network data transfers."

Using techniques that eliminate bottlenecks and impediments to achieve much higher network throughput, the HECN Team's network-test workstations are capable of demonstrating greater than 100-Gbps uni-directional nuttcp-enabled memory-to-memory data flows, 180-Gbps aggregate-bidirectional memory-to-memory data transfers and 75-Gbps uni-directional disk-to-disk data transfers. The disk-to-disk performance more than doubles the nearly 30 Gbps throughput rate achieved at SC10.

Several of the NASA team's SC11 demonstrations will be conducted across an end-to-end "for SC11 only" 1x100-Gbps network pathway between GSFC and SC11 that is being enabled by the Department of Energy's Energy Sciences Network, Internet2, StarLight and the University of Maryland, College Park's Mid-Atlantic Crossroads.

Major contributions are also coming from vendor partners Acadia Optronics, Alcatel-Lucent, Brocade, Ciena, cPacket, Force10, Fujitsu, Intel, Juniper and Supermicro, who loaned leading-edge network and server technologies worth approximately $2 million for the SC11 demonstrations.

Documentation and results from NASA HEC WAN file transfer experiments/demonstrations at SC11, including screenshots from real-time monitoring of the data flows, are available at: SC11_HECN-demo-results_112911.pdf

For more information about the High-End Computer Networking Team, visit:

For more information about NASA's exhibit at the SC11 conference, visit:

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