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10 really cool university networking labs

Advances in wireless, cloud computing, security and more are cooking at these laboratories

By , Network World
December 16, 2008 09:04 AM ET

Network World - You're inundated with pitches about the latest and greatest network technology from all your favorite vendors, plus a bunch you never heard of. But some of the truly interesting stuff is still percolating in the labs – the labs of universities and colleges, that is. Here's a brief look at 10 such labs, which are working on the next wave of technologies that could be coming soon or maybe further down the road to a network near you. To get a feel for what the labs look like, switch over to our slideshow on these labs. 

UNH InterOperability Lab

Created: 1988
Location: Durham, N.H.
Why it's cool: Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2008, the lab at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. tests networking and data communications products in a multivendor environment that undergraduate and graduate students can learn in. The lab grew out of the University's Research Computing Center, which had been testing Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) equipment for its own network and wound up bringing a couple of vendors together to get their products to interoperate. From there, it went on to test 10Base-T interfaces for interoperability with computers and has since tested everything from Power over Ethernet to Linux. The lab offers testing services and also has hosted many multivendor consortia and plugfests focused on technologies such as wireless and Gigabit Ethernet.
Current research: Includes 802.11n and Power-over-Ethernet Plus.

Rutgers University's Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB

Created: 1989
Location: North Brunswick, N.J.
Why it's cool: WINLAB combines university, industry and government resources to advance development of wireless network technology. The center aims to train a new breed of wireless technologists via graduate research programs. The original focus was on digital CDMA radio resource management and power control, back before cell phones were all the rage. WINLAB launched in late 2005 the Open Access Radio Grid Testbed (ORBIT), which houses 400 programmable radio transceivers, each with multiple radio interfaces. Funded by $5.4 million over four years from the NSF, ORBIT lets researchers simulate, test and retest how experimental protocols perform in varied but controlled conditions. WINLAB today has become a key player in NSF's Global Environment for Network Innovation initiative.

Current projects: WINLAB focuses on three key areas: mobile Internet, which will revamp today's Internet architecture and protocols to include mobile users and wireless links; cognitive radios, which can seek out and use any available frequency; and "pervasive wireless," or embedded sensor networks wirelessly linked with Internet-based services.

University of California, Berkeley's Parallel Computing Laboratory 

Created: 2008
Location: Berkeley, Calif.
Why it's cool: The Par Lab focuses on ensuring software smoothly scales as the number of cores per chip in servers and other systems rapidly increases. UC Berkeley researchers had issued a paper in 2006 outlining their concerns about this issue and that paper is said to have led to the school being awarded the funds for the project. Microsoft and Intel are the key funding sources behind the lab.
Current projects: Ensuring application and operating system developers can efficiently create software for multicore systems.

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