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NCAR News Release

2001-7 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2001

Web100 Takes First Step Toward Improving Network Performance

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 -- Select researchers at universities and government laboratories are getting a sneak peek at new software that aims to provide data-transmission rates of 100 megabits per second. The Web 100 Project distributed the initial version of the software yesterday to users of high-speed networks to do real-world testing and provide feedback to the developers. The project is a joint effort by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, with funding from the National Science Foundation.

"Our goal is to make it possible for users to realize the full bandwidth potential of their network," says Marla Meehl, manager of NCAR's network engineering and telecommunications group.

"The Web100 software promises improved network performance at a time when bandwidth is increasingly precious," says Tom Greene, senior program director for infrastructure in the National Science Foundation's Division of Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research. "This type of 'middleware' can help us use existing resources more efficiently."

Twenty-one researchers at ten institutions-including Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory-will test the initial software version released today.

At the University of Michigan, for example, Brian Athey will test the new software for use with the Visible Human Project. Athey is working with Art Wetzel at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to develop applications that allow students to view large Visible Human data sets over high-speed networks.

While most home users still connect to the Internet with a 56K modem, universities, research centers, and some businesses today have connections capable of transmitting data at 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or higher. Research has shown, however, that users rarely see performance greater than 3 Mbps. Web100 researchers traced the problem to software that governs the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), a language that computers use to communicate across networks. Networking experts are able to overcome this limit by fine-tuning connections with adjustments to TCP.

The Web100 software will eventually allow users to take full advantage of available network bandwidth without the help of a networking expert. Web100 programmers are refining TCP software in the Linux operating system to automatically achieve the highest possible transfer rate.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of more than 65 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.

On the Web: http://www.web100.org/

-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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