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NCAR News Release

2001-26 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2001

NCAR, Partners to Boost High-Speed Network Performance with DOE Support

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER -- The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2.5 million to the Net100 Project, a multi-institutional collaboration to improve End-to-end performance on high-speed networks. The three-year grant from the Mathematical, Computational Sciences Division in the Office of Science at DOE, effective this month, supports the development of a suite of tools that enable computer operating systems to automatically tune network performance.

Net100 is a collaboration of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Whether they are shipping huge amounts of data from a supercollider or remotely controlling a video conferencing camera from 2,000 miles away, scientists using high-performance networks need to send data as fast as the network will allow. Today's computer operating systems come configured to transfer network data at only one speed -- usually slow -- regardless of the underlying network. For a corporate network handling 10 million bits per second (Mbps) or a 56K dial-up Internet connection, the default speed is fast enough. However, on a high- speed network that can potentially send 622 Mbps, such as the Department of Energy's Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), the default speed often hinders next-generation applications.

The network throttle of computer operating systems is controlled through the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). By making adjustments to TCP settings, networking experts can tweak and tune the operating system to move data faster. The goal of Net100 is to make the operating system tune itself and to do so dynamically with changes in conditions on the network. The auto-tuning facility is based on PSC and NCAR's Web100 Project, funded by the National Science Foundation.

"Atmospheric, ocean, and other geoscientists are experiencing a massive growth in the amount of data used in their research efforts," says Pete Peterson, deputy head of NCAR's Scientific Computing Division. This is due, he says, both to the growing output of their computer models, which continue to increase in sophistication and resolution, and to the explosive growth in the amount of data gathered by radar, satellites, and other observing sources. "Net100, with its underlying Web100 technology, will allow these scientists to access data at close-to-network capability without experiencing the communications bottlenecks that are common today," he says.

Peterson and Peter O'Neil, NCAR's senior network engineer, foresee an increase in productivity after Web100 and Net100 get going. "The new network-aware operating system will allow researchers to transfer their data sets faster, saving time and energy for their research interests," says O'Neil. "The Net100 project will also reduce the need for human 'wizards' who manually tune computers and network connections."

According to Thomas Ndousse-Fetter, DOE program manager for networking, "The Department of Energy has a number of applications in computational science, distributed computing and real-time instrumentation remote control that demand optimal performance from the network. Currently, scientists need networking experts to optimize individual systems and applications. Net100 will build that expertise into the operating system."

The network sensing components are based on NetLogger (LBNL) and Probe (ORNL and LBNL). NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

-The End-

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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

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