UF connects to Internet2 at 100 Gbps, expanding computer power 10-fold
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida has activated an ultra-high-speed connection to the Internet2 Innovation Platform, expanding computing power 10-fold and offering a computing network found in only three other places in the United States.
UF activated its 100 Gbps connection Jan. 30, a move that is expected to unleash scientific discovery and collaboration on a scale not possible at 10 Gbps, the current research standard.
“This is a terrific milestone in our quest to be a top 10 public university. It puts us squarely on an even footing with other leading institutions by giving our researchers a great tool that accelerates their work exponentially,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “It’s good for the university, and it’s good for the state of Florida.”
The new research computing power represents an investment of $2.4 million, with $1.9 million from National Science Foundation grants and $500,000 in institutional funding. UF is one of the pilot sites chosen to connect to the Internet2 Innovation Platform, designed to be the quickest and easiest way to move data from one research laboratory to another, even internationally.
“Having the capacity to move data at 100 Gbps is a watershed moment in UF’s research environment,” said UF Vice President and Chief Information Officer Elias Eldayrie. “This 10-fold increase in capability will enable scientific contributions and the impact to UF has to the national and international research communities.”
The computing power has the potential to transform research at UF. In a world where genomes are sequenced and vast reaches of the globe — and the stars — are mapped in minute detail, scientists find themselves increasingly dealing with floods of data but limited by the computing pipeline to transmit and share that data.
For example, one project alone, related to the High Energy Physics experiment that announced the discovery of the Higgs boson last July, approaches the previous limit of 10 Gbps on a regular basis, said Erik Deumens, director of research computing. UF researchers will no longer labor under those constraints.
“This upgrade gives us the headroom to keep supporting that research at the levels it needs, while taking on support of new research projects like the iDigBio project for digitization of biological data,” Deumens said. “This investment by the University of Florida with partial funding by the National Science Foundation is part of the effort to provide our researchers and their collaborators the infrastructure to do their research that ranks among the top 10 in the nation.”
The need for data storage and computing power will only grow, said Andy Li, associate professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering.
“Upgrading the UF research network to 100 Gbps will enable us to explore big data sciences, high-performance computing, future Internet and future cloud research, and interdisciplinary collaborations among scientists and engineers,” Li said. “This development further boosts the scientific contribution and impact of UF in Florida, nationally, and internationally. Because we are connecting to a substantially upgraded information highway, UF can serve the needs of terabyte data throughput around the world for researchers and their collaborators.”
Florida LambdaRail’s (FLR) 1,540-mile Research & Education Network, owned and operated by 12 partner universities, including UF, connects the university to the regional, national and international research and education community.
The other institutions and regional optical networks with 100 Gbps data transport capability include Indiana University, Ohio State University’s Ohio Academic Resources Network, and the University of Oklahoma’s Oklahoma Area Network.
The Campus Research Network had to be rebuilt, piece by piece, to accommodate the 100 Gbps connection. But the network is now poised for innovations scheduled this spring, including GatorCloud, a 200 Gbps campus computing initiative, and a computer cluster that will be the largest in the state of Florida.
The focus on computing is expected to be an economic booster, too, UF administrators said. UF computing networks support Innovation Square, a business and technology incubator blocks from campus, and Progress Corporate Park, home to many biotechnology startups that originated with UF research.