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November 16, 2011

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UVic-Atlas Data Blazes Across 100G Connection

The world’s premier supercomputing conference is taking place this week in Seattle, WA, and the University of Victoria is connected to the action by more than 200 km of fiber-optic cable. Internet infrastructure is normally invisible to the average web user, but a demonstration of a 100G network at the SC2011 conference could be as hard to ignore for the computing world as a streak of lightning.
       Today, in a collaboration between BCNET, CANARIE and UVic together with Caltech in the US and a number of industrial partners, the equivalent of five full-length movies per second were transferred from the UVic Computing Centre to a booth at the Washington State Convention Centre on the 100-gigabit-per-second network temporarily set up for the demo. Specifically, one petabyte of particle physics data from the UVic-ATLAS project was sent across the connection in 24 hours at a sustained speed of 95 gigabits per second.
       Desktop computers are typically connected by 10 to 100 megabits per second. “So today’s speeds are about 1,000 times faster than what is being used normally,” says UVic physics professor Dr. Randall Sobie, a key organizer of the demo and a research scientist with the UVic-ATLAS project that provided the data for the experiment. “Our 100G demo at SC2011 is pushing the limits of network technology by showing that it is possible to transfer massive quantities of high-energy physics data in a matter of hours to anywhere around the world. In a few short years, we could see a 100G network all the way to Geneva.”
       The 27-km circular Large Hadron Collider, deep underground in the CERN facility near Geneva, is the site of an international science experiment involving deliberate head-on collisions between trillions of protons. Two giant ATLAS detectors collect the data from these collisions and UVic has been playing a crucial role since the beginning.
       Two decades ago, the UVic group brought Canadians into ATLAS in 1992, led by ATLAS-Canada founding spokesperson and UVic physics professor Dr. Michel Lefebvre and greatly benefitting from early work by UVic particle physicists Drs. Alan Astbury and Richard Keeler. Current spokesperson and UVic adjunct professor Dr. Rob McPherson now leads the group of 150 Canadian scientists including more than two dozen UVic scientists, research associates, students, technicians, computing experts and engineers playing critical roles in operations and physics analysis. UVic hosts an ATLAS analysis centre used by the entire international collaboration. More info: http://public.web.cern.ch/public/.
        Visit www.bc.net or www.canarie.ca for a copy of the news release distributed today by BCNET and CANARIE.

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  Media Contacts:

Dr. Randall Sobie (UVic Physics & Astronomy; IPP Research Scientist) at rsobie@uvic.ca or 250-721-7733 during regular office hours
Dr. Sobie is returning from the conference and available today by email only
Dr. Rob McPherson (UVic Physics & Astronomy/TRIUMF; IPP Research Scientist) at 604-222-7654 or rmcphers@uvic.ca
Tara Sharpe (UVic Communications) at 250-721-6248 or tksharpe@uvic.ca

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