Tomorrow's fiber-optic network today

UCAR joins national effort to bolster scientific and computing progress

UCAR announced in June it will participate in National LambdaRail (NLR), a consortium of U. S. universities and private firms deploying a nationwide networking infrastructure. As a new NLR participant, UCAR represents the Front Range GigaPop, a consortium of universities, nonprofit corporations, and government agencies that share Wide Area Network services along the Colorado Front Range, Wyoming, and Utah.

NLR will support research in science, engineering, health care, and education, as well as the research and development of new Internet technologies, protocols, applications, and services. Each NLR participant will contribute at least $5 million over the next five years as part of the $80 to $100 million initiative.

This diagram shows the fiber-optic routes owned by National LambdaRail (solid red lines) and other wavelengths in the NLR network (dashed red lines). Points of presence—POPs—are shown by city. (Illustration courtesy NLR.) Larger version of map

NLR's national networking infrastructure will initially provide four separate 10-gigabit-per-second wavelengths. Another 28 to 36 wavelengths may be added as needed. Each wavelength will operate side by side with others within the same fiber-optic pair, but each will be physically and operationally independent. The result is expected to be unprecedented control for scientists and networking researchers carrying out application- and networking-level experiments.

Thanks to the increased flexibility and capacity of the new network, scientists will be able to link models and move data faster and more reliably on dedicated lines. For example, NCAR's Community Climate System Model (see page 1) will be used for runs of future climate in the next year that will require a fourfold increase in data volume. For these experiments, it will take less than an hour to move a volume of data that now takes more than seven hours. Another NLR goal is to bring together networking research communities to solve complex challenges of network architecture, end-to-end performance, and scaling.

"The National LambdaRail facility will be a vitally important resource for the atmospheric sciences community," says Marla Meehl, who manages network engineering and telecommunications for NCAR's Scientific Computing Division."Universities and scientific organizations, working together, have achieved a high-performance, experimental network infrastructure that will enable scientific discovery on many fronts. We believe this technology is the future for networking. The hope is that research on this network will make it to the commodity Internet one day."

Other new NLR members announced in June include Cornell University, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN), the Oklahoma State Board of Regents, and the University of New Mexico. The new members will enable NLR to expand its nationwide infrastructure to more than 10,000 miles, extending to New York City, Baton Rouge, Houston, Tulsa, Albuquerque, and Phoenix. The entire NLR infrastructure should be implemented by early next year.

National LambdaRail


Also in this issue...

And then there was 3.0
What's new in CCSM 3.0

A lidar that's easy on the eyes
Forecasting for the Pentagon

Saving a department: the Arizona stor

A new trajectory for COMET

Taking a closer look at present (and past) weather

President’s Corner - The allocation analysis

Web Watch
More than a makeover: UCAR's new umbrella site
Choice images by the megabyte: UCAR's Digital Image Library

Initiatives in Brief - Biogeosciences

Science Bit - What makes a model hurricane head east?

UCAR Community Calendar