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High-energy physics team sets data-transfer records

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Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) set new records for sustained data transfer among storage systems during the SuperComputing 2008 (SC08) conference recently held in Austin, Texas.

Caltech's exhibit at SC08 by the High Energy Physics (HEP) group and the Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR) demonstrated new applications and systems for globally distributed data analysis for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, along with Caltech's global monitoring system MonALISA and its collaboration system EVO (Enabling Virtual Organisations), together with near real-time simulations of earthquakes in the Southern California region, experiences in time-domain astronomy with Google Sky, and recent results in multiphysics multiscale modelling. 

A highlight of the exhibit was the HEP team's record-breaking demonstration of storage-to- storage data transfers over wide area networks from a single rack of servers on the exhibit floor.

The high-energy physics team's demonstration of 'High Speed LHC Data Gathering, Distribution and Analysis Using Next Generation Networks' achieved a bidirectional peak throughput of 114 gigabits per second (Gbps) and a sustained data flow of more than 110 Gbps among clusters of servers on the show floor and at Caltech, Michigan, CERN (Geneva), Fermilab (Batavia), Brazil (Rio de Janiero, São Paulo), Korea (Daegu), Estonia, and locations in the US LHCNet network in Chicago, New York, Geneva, and Amsterdam.

Following up on the previous record transfer of more than 80Gbps sustained among storage systems over continental and transoceanic distances in Reno, Nevada, at SC07, the team used a small fraction of the global LHC grid to sustain transfers at a total rate of 110Gbps (114Gbps peak) between the Tier1, Tier2, and Tier3 center facilities at the partners' sites and the Tier2-scale computing and storage facility constructed by the HEP and Caltech's Center for Advanced Computing Research team within two days on the exhibit floor. The team sustained rates of more than 40 Gbps in both directions for many hours (and up to 71 Gbps in one direction), showing that a well-designed and configured single rack of servers is now capable of saturating the highest-speed wide-area network links in production use today, which have a capacity of 40Gbps in each direction.