Research Notes & Highlights, 2000 [PSC]
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PSC's network engineers are developing tools to automatically detect and diagnose inefficient traffic flow. Using monitored data, software called TAAD (Traffic Analysis and Automatic Diagnosis) predicts ideal performance and compares it to the observed transfer rate. For a well tuned network, this ratio — called the gain ratio — should be one. This graphic shows a poorly tuned network, with the highest frequency of well tuned transmissions (spikes) clustered at low transfer rates.


Research Notes
& Highlights, 2000

Networking the Future

Through its consulting, training and research initiatives, PSC's network resource group plays a leadership role nationally in network technologies. As the engineering services component of the National Laboratory for Advanced Network Research, PSC staff consult with and provide workshops for network engineers at more than 100 universities and research centers. These institutions are linked to high-performance research and education networks, such as the very-high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS) and Abilene, which transfer data more than 10 times faster than the current Internet.

This year, through the Web100 project, the PSC network group received a three-year $2.9 million award from the National Science Foundation. Cisco Systems also provided a $100,000 gift to PSC as further support for Web100. The objective is to develop software that will transparently "tune" network performance. While high-performance networks have developed in bandwidth and accessibility, it's difficult for users to attain optimal performance without expert help. Web100 — a joint effort among PSC, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications — is developing software tools to interact with network protocols and user applications and tune them to the network without user intervention.

The PSC group also operates the Pittsburgh gigaPoP, a high-performance network interconnect for western Pennsylvania and surrounding regions. The gigaPOP provides a 100 megabit per second link to the Internet and separate 155 Mbps links to vBNS, Abilene and other advanced networks. Universities connected through the gigaPoP include Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and West Virginia University.

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