Web100 Announces Public Release of Software to Improve Network Performance
PITTSBURGH, CHAMPAIGN, IL, and BOULDER, CO, February 27, 2002 The Web100 Project, a collaboration designed to help users take full advantage of available bandwidth on high-speed networks, today announced the release of its Alpha 1.0 software, the first public release of software through the project.
Web100 software aims to bring data transmission rates on high-speed networks up to at least 100 megabits per second (Mb/s), the full available bandwidth for these networks. Previous versions of Web100 software were available only to a select group of evaluators and researchers at universities and government laboratories. These users contributed critical feedback to the initial development process.
Tom Dunigan, a key early contributor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) stated, "Web100 is an important component in the Department of Energy's network research efforts at ORNL. Web100 has helped us to characterize the performance of network paths and to understand and tune the TCP protocol."
Started in November 2000 and funded by the National Science Foundation and Cisco Systems, Web100 is a three-year project to develop the tools needed to allow network users to transparently achieve high bandwidth data rates over research networks. Most of these networks are capable of transmitting 100 Mb/s, but rarely achieve performance greater than 3 Mb/s.
"Solving such service problems using open source and open standards is the model established by Web100," said Tom Greene, senior program director at NSF. "This model is being used in all the projects funded through the new NSF Middleware Initiative program."
Specific goals of the Web100 Project include enabling ordinary network users to attain full network data rates without help from network experts, and developing the software components necessary for a high-performance network host software environment. Today's software release makes significant contributions to both goals by including instrumentation and tools that diagnose performance at the sender and receiver ends of a network connection and at any point along the network path.
In addition to the software release, Web100 programmers continue to refine TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) software the language used to communicate across networks in the Linux operating system so that users can automatically achieve the highest possible transfer rate. This effort has already led to a first draft of a new Internet Engineering Task Force standard. As the development of new standards progresses, Web100 researchers hope that other operating system vendors will adopt the Web100 enhancements. Such changes will make increased TCP traffic flows easier to handle and more transparent for the users of high-speed networks.
One of the first to take advantage of Web100 breakthroughs is Michael Schmidt, group head for systems and networks at Unidata, a Boulder-based program that supports an international network of universities and research organizations that exchange hundreds of gigabytes of data daily.
"We've found a dramatic improvement in data transport can be achieved from a better understanding of network configuration and the TCP parameters revealed by Web100," said Schmidt. "Our future code enhancements will take advantage of the concepts we've learned from Web100 and integrate them into our next generation of data distribution software."
"We now have enough of the foundation in place that we can start encouraging insightful contributions from other networking experts," said Matt Mathis, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center network research coordinator and one of the principal investigators with the Web100 Project. "In the end, we would like Web100 software to encompass as much expertise and skill as possible. Ultimately these efforts will free ordinary users from being distracted by the details of tuning the network."
Now in its second year, the Web100 Project is a collaboration of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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