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PNNL set to take advantage of new high-speed network connection

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory : 17 August, 2006  (Technical Article)
A new fiber optic network that connects Richland to Seattle will allow Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to increase the amount of data the research facility can exchange with the U.S. and international science communities by as much as 300 times current rates. The new high-speed connection and increased bandwidth will position the lab for major new research programs in homeland and cyber security, information visualization, and human and environmental health.
The high-speed fiber optic network, which should be complete by Christmas, will connect the Department of Energy laboratory with a regional Internet exchange center in Seattle. From there, the lab will be able to connect to the new DOE UltraScience Network and other national and international high-speed networks that allow scientists to collaborate and share large amounts of data worldwide.

The new optical fiber connection has the potential to improve PNNL's computer network connectivity between its Richland campus and Seattle from the current 622 megabits to 200 gigabits per second.

'From a data transmission perspective, weíve moved from a two-lane road to a 48-lane freeway,' said Jerry Johnson, director of PNNL's information technology services division. 'In the case of very large information transfers, what once took several days to transmit, will now take a few minutes.'

'High-speed network connections with other national and international research institutions are essential to competing for new research programs and user facilities,' added George Michaels, director of PNNL's Computational and Information Sciences Directorate. 'This connection gives us an onramp to other major fiber optic networks that connect the nation and the world.'

PNNL worked through FiberCo, a fiber holding company supporting U.S. research and higher education, to lease the optical fiber for the next 20 years. PNNL has also signed agreements to pay for network equipment, maintenance and operation costs.

The connection will enhance PNNL's ability to play a significant role in federal science initiatives including those funded by the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Defense as well has the National Institutes of Health. For example, a network interconnecting PNNL and other leading genetic and proteomic research facilities may allow the lab to more swiftly and efficiently interpret data that could then be used to create methods for predicting and heading off diseases. The new connection will also support PNNLís work to develop new tools that the Department of Homeland Security needs for managing, visually representing and analyzing enormous amounts of diverse data and information.

While the Richland-Seattle connection greatly improves PNNL's links to international, national and Seattle-area research institutions, the lab hopes to leverage its investment into a regional network that connects Inland Northwest research institutions, universities, and science and technology parks with the Seattle connection.

'Such a network will foster economic development by providing broadband communication between Northwest research institutions and the national science community PNNL now connects to,' said Michaels. 'This Northwest network will be complementary to initiatives like SWIFT in the Tri-Cities and VPnet in Spokane, which are focusing on local infrastructure and connectivity. And affordable, high-speed network connectivity would enable those Northwest institutions removed from a major metropolitan area to bring their innovation and creativity to solving some of our nationís greatest scientific challenges.'
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