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Calit2 to Build High-speed Network for 'Big Data'

April 2, 2013
Calit2 will be the hub of the Prism@UCSD network, linking researchers in data-intensive laboratories such as genomic sequencing and proteomics over 10Gbps and 40Gbps fiber paths. Image courtesy Calit2.

Researchers in the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) are using a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build a high-performance digital network capable of carrying more than twenty times the bandwidth of the current research network.

The project, Prism@UCSD, is the latest in a series of NSF-funded projects at Calit2 to enable faster and more energy-efficient scientific computing, storage, and visualization, including a networking paradigm based on optical networks at the core (the OptiPuter project). The Prism network will be even more robust, faster, and easier to replicate.

"Prism@UCSD is a response to the growing challenge of Big Data," said Calit2 founding director Larry Smarr. "The key innovation in Prism@UCSD is to provide end-to-end dedicated large bandwidth to the end-users on campus. It's a high-capacity 'data freeway.'"

The need for more robust and high-capacity networks has been driven by data-intensive advances in many fields, including digitally enabled genomic medicine - not to mention new abilities to amass and analyze personal biometric data through the use of ubiquitous, inexpensive sensors and monitors (a field which Calit2 has also been pioneering).

The Prism network will expand the SDSC-Calit2 link from 50 to 120Gbps, and many campus labs in data-intesnsive areas such as genomic sequencing, climate science, electron microscopy, oceanography and physics will have direct connections at 20-80Gbps. In addition, by moving traffic from researchers in these data-intensive areas onto Prism, bandwidth on the regular campus network will be freed for the more than 30,000 people served by the infrastructure. With the addition of Prism to Calit2's research network infrastructure, the aggregate bandwidth in the Calit2 network will now top one terabit per second - one trillion bits per second.

Calit2 is an academic research institution jointly run by UC San Diego and UC Irvine, established in 2000 as one of the four UC Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation. A multidisciplinary research institution, it is dedicated to conducting cutting-edge research discovering new ways in which emerging technologies can improve the state's economy and citizens' quality of life.

According to Smarr, if Prism is a success at UCSD, the project will explore ways to give nearby research labs access to the network, even if they aren't on campus.

"UC San Diego has a symbiotic relationship with nearby biotech firms and research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa, institutions such as Salk, The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford Stem Cell Consortium, and Sanford-Burnham," said Smarr. "We are entering the era of integrated, personalized 'omics,' and for San Diego to be a leader, we need to share biomedical data across the Mesa, regardless of which lab generates it."


CCST Spotlight is a weekly newsletter focusing on CCST activities and highlighting innovative science and technology research, applications, and policy issues in California. The Spotlight editor is Danny DeCillis. We welcome information and feedback from our readers about science and technology at work in the private, public, and education sectors. To send us questions or comments, contact us at ccst@ccst.us, or (951) 682-8701.