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Researchers set data speed record from US to Europe

By Ashlee Vance, IDG News Service
March 17, 2003 02:58 PM ET

IDG News Service - A handful of research bodies around the world published record network speed results on Monday, showing a huge boost in the flow of data across both wide area networks and between local systems linked closely together.

Scientists at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have all teamed up to set a new record for sending data from the U.S. to Europe. The researchers were able to accomplish the feat, in part, by using new 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) networking cards from Intel. The use of standard Ethernet technology to set the records could help pave the way for improved networks in both corporate data centers and into end users homes, researchers said.

The group was able to send 1 terabyte of data from Sunnyvale, Calif., to Geneva at a sustained rate of 2.38G bit/sec for more than one hour, said Harvey Newman, a professor of physics at Caltech. This speed beats the current record by a factor of 2.5 and is equivalent to the data rate needed to send 200 full length DVD movies in one hour or one movie in 18 seconds. The researchers, however, have yet to certify the result with Internet2 -- a consortium of 202 universities working on improving networking technology.

The latest record marks the first time that a single TCP stream has made a transoceanic pass at multi-gigabit per second rates, which signals a milestone for commonly used networking technology, Newman said. The breakthrough helps show what can be accomplished with existing Ethernet technology as opposed to turning to new technologies such as Infiniband, which require some network re-architecting

"Ethernet technologies tend to get cheap, which is very important," Newman said. "We like Ethernet because it has this economic model. Infiniband still looks like a relatively expensive technology that is more storage-oriented."

The researchers are hoping that improved network speeds will open the door for developers to create applications which can take advantage of large bandwidth. Software coders may soon be able to write programs for millions of users linked by high speed networks, Newman said.

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