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UCAR Joins National LambdaRail

Network of the Future

June 4, 2004

BOULDER — The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) announced this week that it will join National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR), a consortium of leading U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies deploying a nationwide networking infrastructure. As a new NLR member, UCAR represents a coalition of universities and government agencies from Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. 

The new technology 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. NLR is an $80 to $100 million initiative with each member contributing at least $5 million over the next five years.

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, the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s premier climate model, the Community Climate System Model, will be used for runs of future climate in the next year that will require four times the current 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. In addition to such scientific work, network engineers will also be able to acquire experimental bandwidth in order to test improvements to the system without disrupting traffic.
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UCAR is contributing to the development of LambdaRail, a new network with 10 times the bandwidth of current systems, to promote research on the scientific and networking fronts.

Through UCAR, National LambdaRail will also benefit members of the Front Range GigaPOP (FRGP), a consortium of universities, nonprofit corporations, and government agencies that share Wide Area Networking services. FRGP members that will receive NLR services and participate in the NLR project are the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Denver, NOAA Boulder labs, University of Utah, and the University of Wyoming.

By joining NLR, UCAR will help deploy the national networking infrastructure, which will provide scientists and networking researchers with unprecedented control over a wide range of facilities, capabilities, and services that support application-level and networking-level experiments. The NLR infrastructure will initially provide four separate 10-gigabit-per-second wavelengths with provision to add another 28 to 36 wavelengths as needed to support members' research collaborations.

"The National LambdaRail facility will be a vitally important resource for the atmospheric sciences community," said Marla Meehl, who manages network engineering and telecommunications for UCAR'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," adds Meehl.  "The hope is that research on this network will make it to the commodity Internet one day."

In addition to supporting cutting-edge uses of optical networking capabilities in research and education, a primary goal of NLR is to bring together networking research communities to solve complex challenges of network architecture, end-to-end performance, and scaling.

Other new NLR members announced today 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 over 10,000 miles, extending to New York City, Baton Rouge, Houston, Tulsa, Albuquerque, and Phoenix.

"The expanded membership will allow us to quickly complete the entire NLR infrastructure with full implementation by early spring 2005," says Tracy Futhey, NLR Board Chair. "Through NLR, members will not only benefit their own researchers and faculty, but also the national research and education communities by helping to ensure the widespread availability and use of the unique NLR infrastructure.

Founding NLR members include Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC); the Pacific Northwest GigaPop (PNWGP); the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; Duke University, representing a coalition of North Carolina Universities, the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP), and the Virginia Tech Foundation; Cisco Systems; Internet2; Florida LambdaRail; Georgia Institute of Technology; and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is a consortium of 68 universities offering Ph.D.s in the atmospheric and related sciences.  UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the UCAR Office of Programs.

National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR) is a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies to provide a national scale infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies and applications.  NLR puts the control, the power and the promise of experimental network infrastructure in the hands of our nation's scientists and researchers.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research 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.

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