NSF Gives Green Light to Pacific Research Platform- UC San Diego, UC Berkeley lead creation of West Coast big data freeway system. August 12, 2015

For the last three years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a series of competitive grants to over 100 U.S. universities to aggressively upgrade their campus network capacity for greatly enhanced science data access. NSF is now building on that distributed investment by funding a $5 million, five-year award to UC San Diego and UC Berkeley to establish a Pacific Research Platform (PRP), a science-driven high-capacity data-centric “freeway system” on a large regional scale. Within a few years, the PRP will give participating universities and other research institutions the ability to move data 1,000 times faster compared to speeds on today’s inter-campus shared Internet.

The PRP’s data sharing architecture, with end-to-end 10-100 gigabits per second (Gb/s) connections, will enable region-wide virtual co-location of data with computing resources and enhanced security options. PRP links most of the research universities on the West Coast (the 10 University of California campuses, San Diego State University, Caltech, USC, Stanford, University of Washington) via the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC)/Pacific Wave’s 100G infrastructure. To demonstrate extensibility PRP also connects the University of Hawaii System, Montana State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Amsterdam. Other research institutions in the PRP include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and four national supercomputer centers (SDSC-UCSD, NERSC-LBNL, NAS-NASA Ames, and NCAR).  In addition, the PRP will interconnect with the NSF-funded Chameleon NSFCloud research testbed and the Chicago StarLight/MREN community.

“Research in data-intensive fields is increasingly multi-investigator and multi-institutional, depending on ever more rapid access to ultra-large heterogeneous and widely distributed datasets,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The Pacific Research Platform will make it possible for PRP researchers to transfer large datasets to where they work from their collaborators’ labs or from remote data centers.”

Fifteen existing multi-campus data-intensive application teams act as drivers of the PRP, providing feedback over the five years to the technical design staff. These application areas include accelerator particle physics, astronomical telescope survey data, gravitational wave detector data analysis, galaxy formation and evolution, cancer genomics, human and microbiome ‘omics integration, biomolecular structure modeling, natural disaster, climate, CO2 sequestration simulations, as well as scalable visualization, virtual reality, and ultra-resolution video. The PRP will be extensible both across other data-rich research domains as well as to other national and international networks, potentially leading to a national and eventually global data-intensive research cyberinfrastructure.

“To accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, researchers must get the data they need, where they need it, and when they need it,” said UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Larry Smarr, principal investigator of the PRP and director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “This requires a high-performance data freeway system in which we use optical lightpaths to connect data generators and users of that data.”

The leadership team includes faculty from two of the multi-campus Gray Davis Institutes of Science and Innovation created by the State of California in the year 2000: Calit2, and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), led by UC Berkeley. “The Pacific Research Platform is an ideal vehicle for collaboration between CITRIS and Calit2 given the growing importance of universities working together for the benefit of society,” said CITRIS Deputy Director Camille Crittenden, co-PI on the PRP award. “The project also received strong support from members of the UC Information Technology Leadership Council, which includes chief information officers [CIOs] from the 10 UC campuses, five medical schools, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Office of the President.” Crittenden will manage the science engagement team and the enabling relationships with CIOs on participating campuses and labs.

With all 10 UC campuses involved, the UC Office of the President was so convinced of the PRP’s value that it provided additional funding to “maintain the momentum” until NSF funds could become available. “This cyberinfrastructure evolution shows the transformative power of uniting all ten campuses and providing a platform for the ubiquitous flow of knowledge for research collaboration,” said Tom Andriola, the UC System Chief Information Officer. The leading IT administrators of the non-UC institutions are also strongly committed to the PRP.

The PRP is basing its initial deployment on a proven and scalable network design model for optimizing science data transfers developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – the ESnet Science DMZ. “ESnet developed the Science DMZ concept to help address common network performance problems  encountered at research institutions by creating a network architecture designed for high-performance applications, where the data science network is distinct from the commodity shared Internet,” said ESnet Director Greg Bell, a division director at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL). “As part of its extensive national and international outreach, ESnet is committed to working closely with the Pacific Research Platform to leverage the Science DMZ and Science Engagement concepts to enable collaborating scientists to advance their research.” In the PRP the Science DMZ model will be extended from a set of heterogeneous campus-level DMZs to an interoperable regional model.

“PRP will enable researchers to use standard tools to move data to and from their labs and their collaborators’ sites, supercomputer centers and data repositories distant from their campus IT infrastructure, at speeds comparable to accessing local disks,” said co-PI Thomas A. DeFanti, a research scientist in Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. DeFanti and co-PI Phil Papadopoulos, a program director in the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), will coordinate the efforts of the  large group of network engineers, network providers and measurement programmers at the PRP institutions.

The PRP project emerged from earlier NSF grants awarded to the PRP investigators (OptIPuter, GreenLight, StarLight, Quartzite, and Prism), which led to brainstorming at the CENIC 2014 annual retreat. A subsequent one-day workshop in December 2014, hosted at Stanford, led to a decision to publicly demonstrate the feasibility of the PRP. To do so, the partners engaged network engineers from a number of PRP member campuses to work intensively for the first 10 weeks of 2015 on a proof-of-principle demonstration of high-performance data transfers between Science DMZs over existing elements of the proposed infrastructure. This required extensive collaboration among the PRP partner campuses, led by CENIC’s John Hess. The resulting PRPv0 was presented at CENIC 2015 on March 9, 2015 at UC Irvine. The result involved disk-to-disk data transfers from within one campus Science DMZ to another. After iteration and tuning, tests demonstrated data transfer speeds of 9.6Gb/s out of 10 from UCB, UCI, UCD, and UCSC to UCSD, with two transfers at 36Gb/s out of 40 from UCLA & Caltech to UCSD. During the demonstration at CENIC 2015, one PRP-optimized test moved 1.6 Terabytes in four minutes; by contrast, using the default campus Internet, it took three hours to transfer 0.1 Terabytes, demonstrating a 720x improvement.

These experiments, and the opportunity to create the PRP itself, were only possible because of the CENIC’s leadership in connecting every research university in California at 100G, while upgrading its backbone to 100G.  This $10M+ investment provided a catalyst and leverage for individual campuses to upgrade their Science DMZ infrastructure, using either local funds or NSF resources. “The CENIC demonstration in March showed the commitment and expertise of the partnership members,” recalled CENIC President Louis Fox. “Based on that carefully monitored demonstration, we are convinced that the enhanced infrastructure of the PRP can succeed in its ambitions.”

Separately, NSF has awarded funds to hold a PRP design workshop at UC San Diego, now scheduled for October, 2015, entitled: ‘Building an Interoperable Regional Science DMZ.” This workshop will bring together the PRP application driver researchers with the distributed computer architects, the network engineers, and the multi-institutional IT/Telecom administrators to further refine the PRP implementation.

In addition to DeFanti, Papadopoulos, and Crittenden, Frank Würthwein, a physicist at UC San Diego and SDSC program director, is a PRP co-PI; he will lead technical development of the application groups and monitor progress from the scientists’ perspective. “The PRP is not a build-it-and-they-will-come exercise,” said Würthwein, who is also executive director of the Open Science Grid. “The cyberinfrastructure is responsive to the existing and expected needs of data-intensive applications, so we are building a very science-focused platform that will put these universities above and beyond what other regions already have.” Würthwein is closely involved in the global Large Hadron Collider (LHC) community, which accounted for roughly two-thirds of Open Science Grid’s 800 million computational hours in 2014. Other disciplines consuming OSG resources include social sciences (notably economics), engineering and medicine.

The PRP will be rolled out in two phases. First, the PRPv1 platform will focus on deploying its data-sharing architecture to include all member campuses. Once all of the institutions are up and running, the consortium will develop and then offer PRPv2 as an advanced, IPv6-based version with robust security and software-defined networking (SDN) features.

The computers that “terminate” the optical fiber Big Data flows in DMZ systems, sending, receiving, measuring, and monitoring data, are termed by ESnet Data Transfer Nodes (DTNs). Within each campus Science DMZ, the Pacific Research Platform will deploy a DTN developed at UC San Diego under the NSF-funded Prism@UCSD project, led by PRP co-PI Papadopoulos. Dubbed Flash I/O Network Appliances (FIONA), they are modestly-priced, Linux-based computers made of commodity parts, featuring terabytes of flash drives optimized for data-centric applications.

“FIONAs act as data super-capacitors for the Science Teams,” said Papadopoulos. “They already serve a similar purpose in the Prism@UCSD project that interconnects two-dozen big-data laboratories on the UC San Diego campus with XSEDE resources at SDSC. Prism@UCSD is the university’s Science DMZ, with a core switch router whose lit bandwidth is now approaching 1 Terabyte per second.” The Prism@UCSD network allows connected labs to use burst bandwidth cross-campus that would oversaturate and likely impair the campus backbone, which serves 50,000 users daily.

UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering Chair Rajesh Gupta said, “We are proud that a member of our department faculty, Larry Smarr, is once again providing visionary leadership on a large-scale project that will have a transformative impact on national cyberinfrastructure. PRP envisions a practical distributed architecture supporting a wide range of disciplines to ensure that federally funded university research advances science and continues to produce extraordinary talent for generations to come.”

The PRP Science Teams include:

Particle Physics Data Analysis

UCSD: A.Yagil, F. Würthwein (team leader); UCI: A. Lankford, A. Taffard, D. Whiteson; UCSC: A. Seiden, J. Nielsen, B. Schumm; Caltech: H. Newman; UC Davis: M. Chertok, J. Conway, R. Erbacher, M. Mulhearn, M. Tripathi; UCSB: C. Campagnari; UCR: R. Clare, O. Long, S. Wimpenny

Astronomy and Astrophysics Data Analysis

Telescope Surveys: LBNL: Peter Nugent; UCD: Tony Tyson; Caltech/IPAC/JPL, UCB, Stanford/ SLAC, UCI, UCSC, UW.

Galaxy Evolution: UCI: CGE, director James Bullock; UCSC: AGORA, directors Joel Primack & Piero Madau.

Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Caltech: David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory; UCSD: Frank Würthwein.

Biomedical Data Analysis

Cancer Genomics Hub/Browser: UCSC: David Haussler, Brad Smith

Microbiome and Integrative ‘Omics: UCSD: Rob Knight, Larry Smarr; UCD: David Mills, Carlito Labrilla; Caltech: Sarkis Mazmanian; UCSF: Sergio Baranzini.

Integrative Structural Biology: UCSF: Andrej Sali

Earth Sciences Data Analysis

Data Analysis and Simulation for Earthquakes and Natural Disasters:  UCB: Steve Mahin, with UCSD, UCD, UCLA, UCI, USC, Stanford, OSU, and UW. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER)

Climate Modeling: NCAR/UCAR: Anke Kamrath, Marla Meehl.

California/Nevada Regional Climate: UCSD/SIO: Dan Cayan

CO2 Subsurface Modeling: SDSU: Christopher Paolini and Jose Castillo

Scalable Visualization, Virtual Reality, and Ultra-Resolution Video

UCSD: Tom DeFanti, Falko Kuester, Tom Levy, Jurgen Schulze; UIC: Maxine Brown; UHM, Jason Leigh; UCD: Louise Kellogg; UCI: Magda El Zarki, Walt Scacchi; UCM, Marcelo Kallmann, Nicola Lercari; UvA: Cees de Laat.

Related Links:

Science DMZ
Prism@UCSD news release
San Diego Supercomputer Center

CENIC and the City and County of San Francisco Collaborate to Make San Francisco Public Library the First 10 Gigabit Library in the U.S. July 01, 2015

San Francisco, June 26, 2015 — San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), and the City and County of San Francisco announced today that they have collaborated to provide unprecedented direct connection at 10 gigabits per second access speed to CENIC’s California Research and Education Network (CalREN) and from there to the world.

This unprecedented access to the ultra-high bandwidth CENIC network will provide patrons of the San Francisco Public Library with access to the latest and best resources across a wide array of needs and opportunities in areas such as business, government, science, health care, and education – opportunities to engage, create, invent, and learn.

“They are breaking new ground here, and it’s great to see,” said John Beto, Director of University of Maryland’s Information Policy and Access Center, which conducts research on issues that govern access to digital information.

SFPL accesses city-owned fiber that is used to connect them to CalREN. SFPL has a direct 10 Gigabit connection to their main library.  Seven branches now connect to the main branch at 1 Gigabit, with plans to connect all 27 branch libraries at this speed using city-owned fiber.  From CalREN, San Francisco’s libraries are connected to California’s K-12 and higher education systems, to research and education networks throughout the world, and to the public Internet.

“In keeping with our mission of equality and being a 21st century library, this broadband increase allows our patrons to have the very best in access and opportunity,” said City Librarian Luis Herrera.

The Library’s new teen center, The Mix at SFPL, will greatly benefit from new broadband speed. The Mix at SFPL is dedicated to connecting young people with innovative technology tools such as 3D printers, video/audio editing software, fabrication, and other electronic tools to create their own digital or electronic art, to be involved in robotics, even to build their own drones, and to meet, socialize and collaborate with other young people who share common interests.

“The ability to access digital information is essential to every Californian and our remarkable libraries are places where access, the expertise of librarians, and a wealth of opportunities are available to all.  Bandwidth should never constrain access and innovation in our libraries,“ said CENIC President & CEO, Louis Fox.

“San Francisco was among the pilot sites that preceded the Governor and Legislature’s ‘Lighting Up Libraries Initiative,’ which will bring additional broadband capacity to all of California’s public libraries.  389 libraries will connect starting in July of 2015, with a goal to connect all of California’s 1,112 public libraries in the next few years,” said Fox.

“Public libraries change lives. And the 21st Century connectivity that they are getting through connecting to CENIC’s broadband network is going to be transformative for all of California’s diverse communities.  Already, 56 California library jurisdictions, including the San Francisco Public Library and the Peninsula Library Systems, have the highest level of connectivity of any libraries in the country – a number that will grow over the coming months,” said California State Librarian, Greg Lucas.

The updated broadband, including WiFi, can be experienced at San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.  For more information you can reach us at or (415) 557-4400.

Padtec completes Florida LambdaRail Installation May 05, 2015

Miami, Florida, May 4, 2015 – Padtec, a global manufacturer and solutions provider of turnkey optical solutions, announces today that it has completed the installation of a Padtec 100G Open Wave for FIU/AMPATH over the Florida LambdaRail (FLR) backbone.  AMPATH, a project at Florida International University (FIU), is an Open Research and Education (R&E) Exchange Point (RXP), operating as a Platform of Network Innovation.  AMPATH serves U.S. science research and education communities by managing a production-level international exchange point, connecting a diverse community of national and international R&E networks.
FLR, Florida’s Research and Education Network, is an independent research and education network owned and operated on behalf of its partner institutions and affiliates.  As part of a global research and education community, FLR provides accessibility and connectivity to an advanced, highly scalable broadband network (100Gbps by July 2015) that is designed to meet the ever-growing needs of Florida’s research and education community.

In support of the FIU OpenWave/Atlantic Wave project FLR engineers integrated 100G transponders from Padtec as an Alien Wave over the FLRWave (Cisco ONS) DWDM platform. The insertion of the Padtec alien 100G optical signal from Padtec equipment installed at Jacksonville and Miami through the FLRWave system was provisioned without any regeneration between FLR optical PoPs located in Miami and Jacksonville.

“We are pleased to be able to support FIU/AMPATH and Padtec with the joint experimentation, testing and deployment of the 100G Alien Wave as a key first step to extending and integrating that wave into the AtlanticWave” said FLR CEO Joseph Lazor. “As we complete our 100 G backbone upgrade, we look forward to enabling more successful initiatives like this one in the future”.

An LLC partner institution of FLR, Florida International University, is supporting this project through a Memorandum of Agreement with FLR to improve research and education network connectivity north from Miami, FL where the AMPATH International Exchange Point is located.

“This install marks Padtec’s very first deployment of its compact 4RU i6400 chassis, with a two-node implementation on the eastern seaboard of Florida, from Miami to Jacksonville, and 100G Alien Wave deployment over about 340 km,” said Enrique Lozoya, Padtec VP Engineering Sales. Ultimately, this network will be part of a larger one Padtec has undertaken with FIU’s NSF supported OpenWave project over the LANautilus submarine network.   FIU’s Dr. Julio Ibarra, NSF awardee said, “OpenWave is part of Americas Lightpaths (AmLight), a production infrastructure for communication and collaboration between the U.S. and Western Hemisphere science and engineering research and education communities and the newly available bandwidth will insure significant growth for academic networking between the U.S. and Brazil.”

OpenWave is a breakthrough undertaking which connects the US to Brazil via an experimental (“alien”) 100 Gigabits/second wave (optical transmission channel) by means of optical hardware that has never before been field tested over the distances involved. OpenWave will use an already operating international undersea cable system to bridge the route between Miami, FL., and São Paulo, Brazil, including a 5600km submarine link between St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and Fortaleza, Brazil.   Additionally, AtlanticWave-SDX: a distributed experimental SDX, supporting research, experimental deployments, prototyping and interoperability testing, on national and international scales will utilize the upgraded infrastructure.

“Padtec is proud to work with Florida LambdaRail,” says VP Lozoya of Padtec. “We are confident that this install will help further their continued goal of providing research institutions with connectivity. Our equipment is designed to aid in projects exactly like this one, and we look forward to a continued partnership as well with the OpenWave project.

Offering carrier-class optical platforms and equipment, Padtec embraces an innovative approach to developing cost-effective, and reliable optic communication systems to address long-haul, data center, and submarine network requirements.

About Padtec: Padtec is a global manufacturer and solutions provider of turnkey optical solutions. The company offers products that span very compact modules to corporate access and data center interconnection, long-haul terrestrial backbone and complete submarine multi-terabit solutions. Padtec takes you at the speed of light from you to the world, with operations in North America, South America, Central America, Europe and Asia. The company, headquartered in Campinas, Sao Paulo Brazil, is the first and largest Latin American manufacturer of optical networking equipment. With a strong focus on research and development, Padtec develops custom solutions for global networks leveraging pioneering technology and robust mission critical support. For more information about Padtec, please visit or email

About CIARA: Florida International University’s Center for Internet Augmented Research and Assessment (CIARA), in the Division of IT, has developed an international, high-performance research connection point in Miami, Florida, called AMPATH (AMericasPATH; AMPATH extends participation to underrepresented groups in Latin America and the Caribbean, in science and engineering research and education through the use of high-performance network connections. AMPATH is home to the Americas Lightpaths (AmLight) high-performance network links connecting Latin America to the U.S., funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), award #ACI-0963053 and the Academic Network of São Paulo (award #2003/13708-0) (
About Florida International University: Florida International University is an urban, multi-campus, public research university serving its students and the diverse population of South Florida. We are committed to high-quality teaching, state-of-the-art research and creative activity, and collaborative engagement with our local and global communities.  FIU is Miami’s first and only public research university, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.  FIU is number one in the nation in awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to hispanic students.  Designated as a top-tier research institution, FIU emphasizes research as a major component in the university’s mission (
About Florida LambdaRail: FLR is the regional optical network of Florida, formed as a consortium of the Florida’s research universities, to support their research and education mission (