March 25, 2003
Berkeley Lab Research News
Department of Energy's ESnet leaps ahead by two generations, upgrades backbone to 10 billion bits per second
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BERKELEY, CA   The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), the high-performance network funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, has just completed an upgrade to 2.5 gigabits per second (billions of bits per second, or Gbps), with 10 Gbps in the highest-speed portion of the network.

ESnet logo

Typically, a new generation of data communications bandwidth consists of a fourfold increase in performance. ESnet's new 10 Gbps circuits represent an increase of 16 times existing performance levels, representing a jump of two typical generations of bandwidth upgrades.

Operated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), ESnet is a nationwide, high-performance network supporting scientific research, connecting more than 35 major DOE institutions to each other and to the global internet. This upgrade will contribute to the acceleration of basic scientific research sponsored by the DOE Office of Science.

"DOE programmatic research requirements for networking have steadily grown since 1992 at a rate of 100 percent per year," said James Leighton, the ESnet project manager at Berkeley Lab. "With that growth in traffic, ESnet will be required to handle more traffic this year than in the previous 10 years combined."

The network upgrade was approved and funded by the Office of Science's Mathematical, Information and Computational Sciences Division, to position ESnet to stay ahead of this exponential growth in traffic for the next several years, Leighton said.

Qwest Communications International provides the high-speed circuits to ESnet as fiber-based wavelength services, carrying the high-speed data over a single beam of light. Before the bandwidth upgrade was put into production, ESnet staff thoroughly tested the quality and reliability of the circuits.

"We were able to test the circuits at full speed, in both directions, over more than a thousand miles for a consecutive 24-hour period without a single error," said Leighton, who has led ESnet since it was established in 1985. "This was a truly stunning level of both performance and reliability and better than we could have hoped to achieve."

ESnet enhances the research capabilities of scientists in all DOE mission areas by providing a dedicated, high-speed network for accessing high-performance computing centers, experimental facilities and remote research sites. ESnet also advances collaborative research by providing an integrated set of easy-to-use applications for video, audio, and data-conferencing by multiple users and sites.

"We at Qwest are delighted with this major upgrade of the Energy Sciences Network," said Dr. Wesley K. Kaplow, chief technology officer for Qwest Government Services Division. "Qwest has been providing the majority of services for ESnet since 2000, and has enabled ESnet to continue to successfully improve its network via a series of technology upgrades--starting with high-performance ATM, moving to SONET, and now to 10 Gbps wavelength services. Also, Qwest's investment in building fiber directly to nearly all of the major DOE facilities has enabled this high performance backbone to reach the customer and not just a POP." (A POP is a point of presence, or access point to the internet.)

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our website at http://www.lbl.gov.

Additional information

More about ESnet