NSF Awards $2.9 Million For Web100 Project

November 3, 2000

NEWS BRIEFS

Pittsburgh, PA. — The National Science Foundation has awarded $2.9 million to the Web100 Project, a research effort aimed at bringing data transmission rates of 100 megabits per second to the desktops of researchers. The three-year grant, effective September 15, provides funding to develop software that can automatically “tune” computer operating systems to fully exploit available network bandwidth.

“Progress in network access and electronic interaction utilizing the Internet requires more than increased bandwidth,” said Aubrey Bush, director for the NSF’s division of Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research. “A real challenge now is providing end-to-end performance. This project will address some key network issues that limit Internet performance and work toward effectively removing barriers. The goal is to better take advantage of available resources.”

Most researchers today have access to networks that can transmit data at rates of 100 megabits per second (Mbs) or higher. The networks, however, rarely attain performance above three Mbs. Connections across networks are managed by the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), and research has shown that operating systems are often configured in ways that inhibit TCP performance across long-distance networks.

Through the Web100 Project, researchers at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications are collaborating to address this problem. The objective is to develop software that interacts with the operating system and user applications to automatically tune performance of TCP.

“The Web100 Project seeks to provide solutions to the bandwidth-delay-product problem,” said Basil Irwin, senior network engineer at NCAR, “by automatically and transparently optimizing TCP’s transmit and receive buffer sizes using congestion feedback information extracted from actual network conditions as they are reflected in the host’s TCP code execution.” More information on the Web100 Project can be found at: http://www.web100.org/

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR, was established in 1960 to serve as a focus for research on atmospheric and related science problems.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) began operations in 1986 for implementing experimental supercomputing and high-performance computing systems and networks and for developing innovative applications in high-performance computing, visualization, and desktop software.

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