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Canadian Researchers Break Records for Data Transfer with Newly Established "Light Path"

News Release | For Immediate Release | September 30, 2002

(Vancouver, BC) -- TRIUMF, in partnership with Canarie Inc. and Atlas Canada, announced today the successful transfer of a Terabyte of research data at rates equivalent to a full DVD in less than one minute over a newly established 'light path' extending 12,000 kms from TRIUMF in Vancouver to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

'The ability to establish dedicated 'light paths' across several networks is required for high-performance research applications and is epxected to be a cornerstone of future commercial applications, including high definition multimedia on demand,' said Bill St. Arnaud, Senior Director Networks Projects from Canarie Inc.

'The transfer of large quantities of data has been difficult in the past and the 'light path' technology allows researchers around the world to share findings and data,' said Corrie Kost, Project Leader from TRIUMF. 'This project demonstrates that with 'off the shelf' equipment, high speed data transfer can be the next generation technology for commercial and research institutions.'

The demonstration, part of the iGRID 2002 conference held last week in Amsterdam, required dedicated portions of fibre-optic networks, spanning one provincial (BCnet) and two national research and education networks (CA*net 4 and SURFnet) to establish the on-demand private network. Experiments were also conducted on the DataTag link, a dedicated European-US research link between Chicago and CERN.

The project culminated in establishing the first large scale end-to-end 'light path' to transfer a Terabyte of research data (equivalent to the amount of data on approximately 1500 CDs) from disk-to-disk at rates equivalent to a full CD in less than 8 seconds (or a full length DVD movie in less than 1 minute). Peak transfer rates in excess of 1 Gigabit/second were achieved, twice the previous known record for this distance.

This is the first establishment of an inter-domain end to end 'light path' dedicated for a research application, a core design principle of CA*net 4. The 'light path' directly connecting TRIUMF and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the longest known single hop network - spanning the distance from Vancouver to Geneva via optical Internet exchanges in Chicago, Amsterdam and CERN. These exchanges, respectively, STARLIGHT and NETHERLIGHT, the CERN Internet Exchange Pint, are next generation peering points for Research and Education networks.

The four member research team was comprised of Corrie Kost and Steve McDonald from TRIUMF, Bryan Caron from the Centre for Subatomic Research at the University of Alberta and Wade Hong from the Department of Physics at Carleton University. THe project deployed the 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology (capable of speeds 2500 times greater than the fastest available residential service) at each end of the 'light path' using high performance network switching equipment generously provided by Extreme Networks.

A number of file transfer programs were demonstrated to be capable of transferring data at very high rates. 'Tsunami', developed at Indiana University's Advanced Network Management Lab to overcome the shortcomings of the Transmission Control Protocol over very large distances was cooperatively being tested as part of this trial. Utilizing modifications to the Linux TCP/IP stack, developed at the California Institute of Technology andCERN, the team was able to dramatically improve the performance of other commonly used file transfer programs.


TRIUMF is Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. Located on the south campus of the University of British Columbia, TRIUMF is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of the following Canadian universities, via a contribution through the National Research Council Canada: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, Université de Montréal, Queen's University, University of Regina, Simon Fraser University, Saint Mary's University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, York University.



Contributors to the Light Path project include:

Canarie and CA*net
Contact: Bill St. Arnaud

Contact: Michael Hrybyk, President & CEO

Atlas Canada
Contact: James Pinfold

Contact: Olivier H. Martin

Extreme Networks

Advanced Network Management Lab
Contact: Mark Meiss


Erin Airton, Communications

Corrie Kost, Project Leader - TRIUMF

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