SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS
San Diego, CA — Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), will demonstrate one of the first uses of the next-generation Internet Protocol in a major scientific application during the 10th Annual Internet Society Conference, INET 2000, in Yokohama, Japan, July 18-21. The researchers will conduct interactive remote control of an electron microscope over end-to-end native IPv6 links spanning trans-Pacific high-performance networks.
Representatives of UCSD’s National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) will highlight how telescience technologies can provide worldwide access to unique scientific instruments and enable researchers to collaborate more easily. In particular, the researchers will demonstrate telemicroscopy by controlling NCMIR’s 400,000-volt electron microscope in San Diego from the INET 2000 exhibition. The group’s telescience activities are supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Research Resources, which supports the NCMIR.
“The key point about our demo is that the entire system – from the high-power microscope in San Diego to the Web browser on the workstation in Japan – will be using the next-generation Internet Protocol, IPv6,” said Mark Ellisman, the director of NCMIR, NPACI’s cross-disciplinary coordinator, and an SDSC fellow. “We’re using native IPv6 – not just an encapsulation under the older protocol – from one end of the demo system to the other. Our demo will be one of the first uses of the IPv6 protocol in a major scientific application, and one of very few end-to-end IPv6 systems anywhere.” Collaborators on the telescience demonstrations include Ellisman and Martin Hadida of NCMIR and SDSC; Youki Kadobayashi of Osaka University; Bob Fink of the Department of Energy’s ESnet; and Thomas Hutton of SDSC.
In the telescience demo, microscope images and status information travel from the NCMIR microscope via a IPv6 Sun Microsystems server to SDSC, where the messages are routed WorldCom’s vBNS (Very High Performance Backbone Network Service), sponsored by NSF. A special IPv6 transfer point called “6TAP” at the STAR TAP exchange in Chicago connects to the Asia-Pacific Advanced Network (APAN) transfer point in Tokyo, via the 100 megabit per second APAN-TransPAC link. From there, the data travel over the Japan Gigabit Network (JGN) to the Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center where the iGrid backbone carries this data to the Sun workstation running the demo’s interactive remote-control system. Control commands travel the same route in the opposite direction.
“We believe this demo will show that IPv6 works, that it’s ready for release in commercial router and system products, and that it’s ready for regular production deployment in ISP networks and end-user site networks and systems,” Fink said.
Internet Protocol Version 6, known as IPv6, was designed to replace IPv4, the current version used by most of the Internet. IPv6 has several advantages over the nearly 20-year-old IPv4. IPv6 vastly increases the number of available addresses, and it provides better support for autoconfiguration, router discovery, security, and real-time communications. Internet engineers expect IPv6 to gradually replace IPv4 over the next several years.
ESnet’s Fink encouraged the UCSD telescience team to use the new protocol and played a key role in connecting the group with IPv6 experts. The network providers, especially Linda Winkler and others at TransPAC/STAR TAP, set up a private virtual circuit that eliminated routing concerns and paved the road from San Diego to Japan. In addition, the APAN-TransPAC link was recently upgraded from 70 to 100 megabits per second, just in time to support the demo and the other high-bandwidth demos that route messages through STAR TAP.
“We’ve been able to make this happen through the strong support of Sun Microsystems for IPv6 and for our research efforts,” Ellisman said. “In particular, Alain Durand of Sun’s IPv6 team has provided hardware, software, and expertise critical to making this system a success.” Sun’s Solaris 8 Operating Environment supports IPv6 out of the box and permits easy transition from IPv4. Solaris also allows a single computer to support both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols simultaneously.
In coordination with the UCSD team’s demo, Youki Kadobayashi and Hirotaro Mori of Osaka University, collaborators from the Research Center for Ultra-High Voltage Electron Microscopy (UHVEM), will present a second telemicroscopy demonstration. The UHVEM demo will control a 3 million-volt transmission electron microscope – the world’s largest and most powerful of its type – over a high-bandwidth optical network, using high-definition D1 format video. Kadobayashi and his colleagues are leaders in IPv6 deployment in Japan, and are key participants in the UCSD demos.
For additional information on the iGrid telemicroscopy demo, see the INET 2000 conference paper “Advanced Networking for Telemicroscopy” at http://www.sdsc.edu/~marty/inet2000/ . Background information on the Telescience project is available at http://www.npaci.edu/enVision/v16.2/telescience.html .
The National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) unites 46 universities and research institutions to build the computational environment for tomorrow’s scientific discovery. Led by UC San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), NPACI is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program and receives additional support from the State and University of California, other government agencies, and partner institutions. The NSF PACI program also supports the National Computational Science Alliance. For additional information about SDSC and NPACI, see http://www.npaci.edu/ .