Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Network Being Built to Support Transfer of Big Data

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The University of California, San Diego, is taking another leap forward in the name of enabling data-intensive science.

The Prism@UCSD project is building a research-defined, end-to-end cyberinfrastructure on the La Jolla campus capable of supporting bursts of data between facilities that might otherwise cripple the main campus network.

"High-performance cyberinfrastructure is a strategic necessity for a research university," said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "The Prism network will enable rapid movement of ‘Big Data’ for multiple, diverse disciplines across campus, including science, engineering, medicine and the arts."

With $500,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers in the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) are building the network to support researchers in half a dozen data-intensive scientific areas, including genomic sequencing, climate science, electron microscopy, oceanography and physics.

“We’ve identified a variety of big data users on this campus who need ten gigabit/s and faster bandwidth to deal with the avalanche of data coming from scientific instruments such as sequencers, microscopes and computing clusters,” said Philip Papadopoulos, principal investigator on the Prism@UCSD project, who splits his time between Calit2 and the university’s San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). “We're starting at 1 Terabit/s of connected capacity through our next-generation modular switch, which is at the center of the Prism network. It can carry 20 times the traffic of our current research network, and it’s 100 times the bandwidth of the main campus network.”

With the addition of Prism to Calit2’s research network infrastructure, the aggregate bandwidth in the Calit2 network will now top one terabit per second – one trillion bits per second.
“You can think of Prism as the HOV lane,” added Papadopoulos, “whereas our very capable campus network represents the slower lanes on the freeway.”

“Prism@UCSD is a response to the growing challenge of Big Data,” said Calit2 Director Larry Smarr. “The key innovation in Prism@UCSD is to provide end-to-end dedicated large bandwidth to the end-users on campus.”

In the past decade, Smarr and Papadopoulos have collaborated on multiple NSF-funded projects to enable cheaper, faster and more energy-efficient scientific computing, storage and visualization. Their OptIPuter project developed a new computer networking paradigm, with optical networks – not computer processors – at the core. That led to Quartzite, an experimental network with reconfigurable optical fiber paths, and wavelength selective switching. The Quartzite core is now six years old, is at full capacity, consumes significant energy, and does not support software-defined networking (SDN) tools such as OpenFlow. Based on those realities and lessons learned in previous projects, Papadopoulos and Smarr were able to create a successful proposal to the National Science Foundation for a more robust, lower energy, faster, and easier to replicate design.

Prism builds on top of Quartzite, using a next-generation Arista Networks 7405 switch-router, which boasts triple the energy efficiency and four times the capacity of Quartzite’s switch. Prism will also expand the existing Calit2-SDSC optical-fiber connection.

“By the time Prism is built out, we will have expanded the SDSC-Calit2 link from 50 to 120Gbps, and it won’t cost very much to get it to 160Gbps,” said Papadopoulos. “Other campus labs then connect directly to the Prism core at Calit2 with dedicated links of between 20 and 80 Gigabit/s each. The structure allows a Prism-connected lab to saturate any of our external links, no matter where they land on campus. It also enables these labs to share data with each other or utilize high-end resources at SDSC. There is more than enough bandwidth in the switch to accommodate anything you can throw at it.” The Arista switch has full bisection bandwidth (as between clusters in a machine room) but it can be deployed at campus scale.

"Prism is the answer to how to move massive volumes of instrument data generated on and off campus to SDSC's powerful Big Data computing and storage resources, Gordon and Data Oasis,” said SDSC Director Michael Norman. “Prism will unleash the scientific potential energy of a number of frontier science projects that have been bandwidth limited."

The network will be a hybrid – part “production” infrastructure for real-world use, part “experimental” system for researchers to test out networking ideas. On the production side, the campus is counting on Prism to reduce congestion on the main UCSD network by moving traffic from a few hundred researchers in the most data-intensive fields onto Prism, where they can work with huge data sets that might otherwise clog the campus infrastructure – a state of-the-art infrastructure that has to serve over 30,000 people.

“The Prism Big Data network also creates a high-capacity ‘data freeway’ to campus, national or international networks,” added Smarr.

Case in point: UCSD physics professor Frank Wuerthwein’s lab is the only Open Science Grid (OSG) node on the UCSD campus, and the lab’s cluster hosts massive amounts of data from the Large Hadron Collider.

“We want to expand the presence of OSG on this campus,” said Wuerthwein, who has signed up to use Prism@UCSD. “For the really big data we are holding – petabytes of Large Hadron Collider data, for instance – it is nice to have a network where we can transmit terabytes of data without killing the campus network in the process.”

“The most data-intensive scientific applications get the most value out of using dedicated ‘fat’ pipes with the ability to accommodate short, extreme-sized bursts of data,” said Papadopoulos. “We believe Prism will be the forerunner of specialized, Big Data cyberinfrastructures on many research campuses – and beyond.”

Prism will also add a trunk line to the Computer Science and Engineering building, to serve users such as the Center for Networked Systems (CNS). CNS research scientist George Porter and his students use the SEED cluster for Big Data analysis. “One graduate student might work on a 100TB to 200TB data set, and there is only room for one of those at a time on that cluster,” said Porter. “So if you wanted to swap data sets, you’d kill the campus network, or you would have to stretch it out over the course of days.”

Another major campus user of Prism will be the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR), led by professor Mark Ellisman. “We run our own facilities that house petabytes of data distributed across three sites on campus,” said Ellisman. “So being able to move around the data to wherever it is needed is extremely important. We intend to use Prism for our machine room-to-machine room backplane for day-to-day operations.”

Added Ellisman: “We will also be able to use it to burst out very large data sets that are generated on NCMIR's array of microscopes and then analyze the data on various Big Data infrastructures that reside physically in different locations on the UCSD campus.”

“NCMIR was one of the pioneering science projects that drove the OptIPuter project almost a decade ago,” noted Papadopoulos. “It’s important for us that a research center with deep knowledge and experience in this arena can really push the envelope and test the limits of how well the Prism network stands up to the needs of the biggest users. Over time, we expect other research groups to follow NCMIR’s lead as they begin to handle massive-scale data sets.”

According to Papadopoulos, the first constraint in sharing large-scale data at UCSD today is that the many labs that have built up terabytes, cannot easily move the data at will. “This is a first, essential step in a larger data capability that will touch all corners of UCSD and be fundamentally imagined and made real by a very large group of researchers,” he noted.

According to Calit2’s Smarr, if Prism is a success at UCSD, the project will explore ways to give nearby research labs access to the network – even if they aren’t on campus. “UC San Diego has a symbiotic relationship with nearby biotech firms and research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa, institutions such as Salk, The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford Stem Cell Consortium, and Sanford-Burnham,” said Smarr. “We are entering the era of integrated, personalized ‘omics,’ and for San Diego to be a leader, we need to share biomedical data across the Mesa, regardless of which lab generates it.”

Most of the NSF funds will be spent on hardware, but Prism will also offer part-time jobs to undergraduate students who help operate the network, while learning about software-defined networking technology. According to Papadopoulos, applicants will have to be “self-starters with a technical bent,” preferably with a background in computer science or networking. In addition, a summer workshop aimed at minority-serving institutions will build on Calit2 and SDSC's tradition of diversity outreach.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Autism Genes Are Revealed in Largest-Ever Study
Work draws more detailed picture of genetic risk, sheds light on sex differences in diagnosis.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Influenza A Viruses More Likely To Emerge In East Asia Than North America
Novel strains of influenza A are more likely to emerge in East Asia than in North America, according to a global analysis by the One Health Institute at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and EcoHealth Alliance.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Crunching Numbers to Combat Cancer
UCSF receives $5 million to integrate data from cancer research models.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Designing New Pain Relief Drugs
Researchers have identified the molecular interactions that allow capsaicin to activate the body’s primary receptor for sensing heat and pain, paving the way for the design of more selective and effective drugs to relieve pain.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Fast-Mutating DNA Sequences Shape Early Development
What does it mean to be human? According to scientists the key lies, ultimately, in the billions of lines of genetic code that comprise the human genome.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Pan-Cancer Studies Find Common Patterns Shared by Different Tumor Types
Findings may open up new treatment options by extending therapies effective in one cancer type to others with a similar genomic profile.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
New Center for Data Storage Research Established
Researchers in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz are partnering with data storage industry to establish the Center for Research in Storage Systems (CRSS).
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Personalized Medicine From Genomics and Bioinformatics Highlighted at UCSF Genetics Symposium
Personalized medicine advances arising from genetic discoveries were the primary focus of wide-ranging presentations at the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics 2012 Symposium.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Computer Model Successfully Predicts Drug Side Effects
Research based on the similarity between a drugs chemical structures and those molecules known to cause side effects, according to a paper appearing online this week in the journal Nature.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
National Data Center for Cancer Genome Research
In the wake of personalized medicine, scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, make progress in the management and analysis of large data sets.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Scientific News
Groundbreaking Computer Program Diagnoses Cancer in Two Days
Researchers have combined genetics with computer science and created a new diagnostic technology can with 85 per cent certainty identify the source of the disease and thus target treatment and, ultimately, improve the prognosis for the patient.
Scientists Create World’s Largest Catalog of Human Genomic Variation
An international team of scientists from the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium has created the world’s largest catalog of genomic differences among humans, providing researchers with powerful clues to help them establish why some people are susceptible to various diseases.
New Autism Genes Are Revealed in Largest-Ever Study
Work draws more detailed picture of genetic risk, sheds light on sex differences in diagnosis.
Influenza A Viruses More Likely To Emerge In East Asia Than North America
Novel strains of influenza A are more likely to emerge in East Asia than in North America, according to a global analysis by the One Health Institute at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and EcoHealth Alliance.
Bone Risks Linked to Genetic Variants
A large-scale genomic study uncovered novel genetic variants and led researchers to an unexpected gene that affects bone density and fracture risk.
The Final Word on STAP
Researchers fail to replicate STAP study; computational analysis reveals genomic inconsistency.
Study Adds to Evidence That Viruses Are Alive
A new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report.
CSI -- On The Metabolite's Trail
Bioinformaticians at the University of Jena make the most efficient search engine for molecular structures available online.
Potential Ovarian Cancer Biomarker Isolated
Researchers from North Carolina State University utilized a highly sensitive mass spectrometry analysis to identify and measure difficult-to-detect N-glycan biomarkers associated with ovarian cancers in stages I – IV.
Smartphone App to Monitor Serious Blood Disorder
A researcher from Florida Atlantic University has come up with a unique way to monitor sickle cell disease -- a serious blood disorder -- using a smart phone.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos