FEATURES & COMMENTARY
Dallas, TEXAS — In a competition to demonstrate high-bandwidth applications and push the limits of network capacity, two teams posted peak performance figures of more than a gigabit of data per second, with the winning team achieving peak performance of 1.48 gigabits per second.
The SC2000 Network Challenge for Bandwidth-Intensive Applications was held Tuesday night and Wednesday at SC2000, the conference of high performance networking and computing. Eleven teams rose to the challenge when it was announced in April. After spending months getting ready, they each had one hour to move as much data as possible across SCinet, the conference network.
On Thursday afternoon, the conference simultaneously ran all the bandwidth challenges, as well as other communication-intensive applications. The SCinet team measured all of the traffic moving in and out of exhibit areas and the total aggregate rate exceeded five gigabits per second throughout the hour. This is about 100,000 times more data than a typical residential connection can handle.
The competition produced winners in three categories and three “outstanding runners-up,” each receiving a cash prize donated by Qwest Communications International, Inc. “Qwest is pleased to encourage and reward such demanding applications and to demonstrate the capabilities and services we are providing to such scientific networks as the Department of Energy’s ESnet,” said Wesley Kaplow, Qwest’s chief technology officer for government systems. “This was a good opportunity for us to get in synch with our customers as we collectively tackle the problems of breaking the bandwidth bottleneck.”
Winning the “Fastest and Fattest” category for overall best performance was a team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory demonstrating Visapult, a prototype application and framework for remote visualization of terascale datasets. The Visapult team recorded a peak performance level of 1.48 gigabits per second over a five-second period.
Taking top honors in the “Hottest Infrastructure” category was a team representing the University of Southern California/Information Sciences Institute and Argonne, Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories running “A Data Management Infrastructure for Climate Modeling Research.” The team demonstrated its infrastructure for secure, high-performance data transfer and replication for large-scale climate modeling data sets and achieved a peak performance level of 1.03 gigabits.
The winner in the “Most Captivating and Best Tuned” category was a team representing Stanford University/Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Internet2, Deutsche Telekom and Stanford Networking. This application uses Quality of Service routing to send data across the country and back to provide real-time music recording and playback.
Outstanding runners-up were Project DataSpace, an infrastructure for remote and distributed data access, analysis and mining; Development of a Telescience Portal, a Web-based system for performing biological experiments using remote instruments and computing resources; and Scalable High-Resolution Wide Area Collaboration over the Access Grid, a system to support group-to-group interaction across the Grid.
According to Ian Foster of Argonne National Laboratory, who initiated the challenge, “The general idea was that participants would propose ideas for amazing applications that would both overwhelm the SCinet network infrastructure and to showcase technologies and do things they couldn’t do elsewhere. We were delighted with what the competitors managed to do.”
The network performance was measured both by each team and by the SCinet staff. The entries were judged by an eight-member panel of international experts who have a stake in the success of such applications.
“Science is increasingly dependent on networking, with the people, data and facilities dispersed around the country and the globe and this was an exciting chance to demonstrate what leading applications can do when they have access to advanced networks and services,” said Mary Anne Scott, a program manager in the DOE Office of Science, and one of the judges.