PSC News Center

Pitt and PSC Join National LambdaRail

PITTSBURGH,October 12, 2004 — The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and the University of Pittsburgh have joined a consortium of leading U.S. universities and companies deploying an advanced, nationwide fiber-optic infrastructure. PSC and Pitt share membership and a seat on the board of National LambdaRail (NLR) — a national network infrastructure supporting experimental and production networks for the U.S. research community.

NLR’s mission is to deploy national networking infrastructure to foster advanced networking research and to encourage next-generation applications in science, engineering and medicine. Through advanced technologies, it will make available multiple experimental and production networks for the U.S. research community. Through NLR, many different networks will exist side-by-side in the same fiber-optic cable, but will be independent of each other, each supported by its own lightwave or lambda.

“NLR pushes beyond existing limitations of conventional Internet backbones,” says PSC director of networking Wendy Huntoon. “This will allow us, for instance, to create a dedicated connection for a specific purpose, such as to support rapid data transfers between PSC and Oklahoma for a tornado forecasting experiment.”

“The NLR initiative presents an exciting opportunity for university faculty engaged in advanced networking research as well as those faculty whose work involves next generation network application research,” says Jinx Walton, director of computing services and systems development at the University of Pittsburgh. “The availability of a national scale network committed to fostering research activities will create opportunities that are impossible on production networks.”

“The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the University of Pittsburgh are welcome and valued additions to the NLR membership,” said Tracy Futhey, chair of the NLR Board of Directors. ”Their membership is especially gratifying because PSC was one of the earliest advocates of National LambdaRail, which is committed to deploying and using the most advanced national networking infrastructure in the United States dedicated to research and education. As acknowledged network leaders, the NLR will benefit greatly from their participation.”

The connection to NLR is implemented at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Three Rivers Exchange (formerly the Pittsburgh GigaPoP), a high-speed network crossroads connecting regional academic institutions, businesses and government agencies to next-generation, national network backbones such as NLR.

Using dense wave-division multiplexing, the pair of fiber-optic cables connecting Pittsburgh to NLR can be split into up to 40 lambdas, each capable of moving data at 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps). NLR will initially use four channels to implement four separate nation-wide networks dedicated to experimentation with new network technologies and applications.

Three lambdas on the NLR infrastructure between Pittsburgh and Chicago are currently used for a 30 Gbps link between PSC and the TeraGrid, a multi-year National Science Foundation effort to build and deploy the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed infrastructure for open scientific research.

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

See also: Optical networking: The next generation, ZDNet


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Sean Fulton
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Michael Schneider
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

John Fedele
University of Pittsburgh

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