Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         CONTACT:
March 5, 1998                                    Michael Schneider
                                                 Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Pittsburgh Wins Grant for National Network Engineering Center

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center networking group has received $2.7 million from the National Science Foundation to establish a National Center for Network Engineering (NCNE). The center will serve as a nationwide clearinghouse and technical resource to implement the next generation of Internet technologies.

NCNE will operate as a component of the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research (NLANR), a National Science Foundation organization that coordinates development of the very high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS). Launched in 1995 through an agreement between NSF and MCI, vBNS provides a high-bandwidth, relatively congestion-free network to support advanced scientific research.

Through NLANR, NCNE will provide comprehensive engineering support for American universities and research centers to use vBNS, which moves information up to 100 times faster than the present Internet. Although vBNS initially inked only U.S. supercomputing centers, it has now expanded to include more than 30 universities, including Penn State and Carnegie Mellon, and eventually about 100 universities will receive NSF grants to connect. NCNE will provide these universities with technical information, training and troubleshooting expertise.

"Universities connecting to high-speed networks like vBNS want to solve research problems," said NCNE director Gwendolyn Huntoon, who also manages the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center networking group. "They don't want their resources tied up in network setup and maintenance. Our engineering and training services will improve their ability to use this new technology productively."

NCNE will also serve the research and education community by evaluating and integrating new technologies into the existing network infrastructure. "Integrating new technologies is critical to developing advanced research and education applications," said Huntoon. "We'll work with vendors and researchers to facilitate development of new technologies from research, through engineering and operations, to production use."

NCNE is one of three components of NLANR, which began as a collaboration among the five initial vBNS sites — Cornell Theory Center, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and San Diego Supercomputer Center — to provide engineering, technical support and coordination of vBNS connectivity.

Since 1986, PSC networking staff have played a leadership role nationally in the planning and development of networking technology as it evolved from NSFnet, a "backbone" linking research centers, to the current Internet and high-performance networks such as vBNS. NCNE builds on this recognized capability. The $2.7 million NSF grant that establishes NCNE is a 30-month cooperative agreement. Through a subcontract with NCNE, the network staff of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado will support NCNE activity.

The vBNS currently transmits at speeds up to 622 million bits per second, fast enough to transfer the complete Encyclopedia Britannica in less than 10 seconds. A number of research projects at PSC benefit from access to vBNS. Examples include:

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

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© Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)
Revised: March 5, 1998

URL: http://www.psc.edu/publicinfo/ncne_3-5-98.html