Worldwide Deal Supports China, U.S., EU Supercomputing Load

A new agreement ensures that supercomputer research shared between Asia, Europe and North America will have redundant routes for backing up and transmitting data.

The deal between the OrientPlus (which links Europe and Asia), the U.S. Internet2 consortium, the TransPac3 network connecting the U.S. and Japan, and the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) has been characterized as the first worldwide agreement of its kind. The routes will include 10 Gbit/s links, consistent with the average transmission speeds of the Internet2 network.

The networks will be used to transmit data from major scientific work, including the Large Hadron Collider study, the ITER global energy fusion program, projects at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, genome research and the ARGO-YBJ cosmic ray observation initiative. In the event of outages or cable cuts on one network route, traffic will be routed via the alternative path, increasing resilience and minimizing disruption to European and U.S. researchers working with their Chinese colleagues.

“The research world today is truly global and we need to work together to push back the frontiers of knowledge,” Dave Lambert, president and chief executive of Internet2, wrote in a statement. “High-performance research networks are at the heart of this collaboration and by transforming network resilience across three continents this around-the-world backup protects essential projects that benefit us all.”

Last June, the TransPac3 consortium sent 24 Gbytes of genomic data from Beijing to the University of California at Davis in less than 30 seconds, using the dedicated link. That same data took more than 26 hours when sent over the generic Internet, the consortium said.

The networks themselves are already somewhat interconnected on a financial level: OrientPlus, for example, is funded by the EU as well as the European and Chinese NRENs, connecting 40 million users of the pan-European GÉANT network via a 10-Gbits/s, trans-Siberian link between Beijing and London. TransPac3 connects Indiana University with China via Hong Kong and an exchange point in Singapore; the link began at 20 Gbits/s, and is being upgraded to 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps over time. The peering link, however, will only operate at 10 Gbits/s, the consortium said, and will be funded by the National Science Foundation.

Internally, CERNET transmits data at 100 Gbits/s across 200 cities; before the agreement, it only connected to other networks at 50 Gbits/s. Just as Internet2 is funded solely by the United States, CERNET is solely funded by China.


Image: Pasko Maksim/