Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Receives $980,000 Software Development Award
PITTSBURGH, PA., September 9, 2010 – The Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX), the advanced network research group at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, has received a $980,000 Software Development for Cyberinfrastructure (SDCI) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, from NSF’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure, is for a three-year project called “Web10Gig” that will develop network software to enable ordinary users to effectively use advanced networks.
Web10Gig builds on an earlier successful project called Web100 that ended in 2003 and produced prototype software still heavily used. PSC partnered on Web100 with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (in Colorado) and with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (NCSA), and on Web10Gig is again partnering with NCSA, which received a $200,000 award from NSF for the new project.
“The potential broader impact of Web10Gig is huge,” said PSC director of networking Wendy Huntoon. “It can make it easy for users from the broadest range of fields and technical abilities to use the network to its full capacity. Eliminating many common network problems will have a transformative effect for researchers in many disciplines.”
Web100 addressed a problem that affects many advanced network users. Though many networks can transfer data at high rates–10 billon bits per second (Gbps) or higher–many researchers who use these networks don’t realize data-transfer rates near the network’s maximum capacity. The reason is that computer operating systems commonly aren’t “tuned” to exploit the available bandwidth. Web100 instituted refinements to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), the “language” computers use to communicate on networks, making it much easier for non-experts using the Linux operating system, the most widely used operating system for research applications, to automatically tune the operating system to the network and achieve much higher transfer rates.
One example is Measurement Lab (M-Lab) an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. M-Lab maintains 100 terabytes of online Web100 data.
Web10Gig will reunite some of the network scientists who developed Web100. They will correct weaknesses in Web100’s prototype installation and eliminate barriers to its wide use. Web10Gig will produce an implementation of standard TCP based on the Web100 prototype and refine it so it can be included in the “in line kernel” of Linux, from where it will enable network measurement and diagnosis tools to operate underneath all types of network-based research.
NSF’s SDCI program supports development of software systems that benefit a broad set of science and engineering applications.