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A GEANT Leap Forward In Networking For Research 275

An anonymous reader contributes: "A research backbone network interconnecting more than 30 countries, through which hundreds of universities can exchange traffic, with a backbone running at 10 Gbps, born on the 1st of December. Yes, it exists, and this research network is not even in the U.S.! GEANT is a european initiative which has just come online, so if you're a student in Europe, you may have noticed a significant change in your downloads speeds since last week. You can even check its weathermap! Well, obviously backbone links are still unused ... but that shouldn't last long, once people notice the sheer amount of bandwidth."
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A GEANT Leap Forward In Networking For Research

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Have no backbone =(
    • Yup, our University network is sure behind the curve compared to this GEANT thing. Another comparison: Costa Rica gave free internet access to all citizens. US, with 100 (?) times the per capita income, is "too poor" to afford this.

      On the bright side, you can do whatever you want if your name is Bill Gates (of Borg). ++++++++++++++

  • Sorry if this is a dumb question. I guess I was just wondering if it would ever turn out that all these networks would join up someday, or if we'll end up needing multiple computers to connect to all the different internets (should we want to), or if we'll have high-speed backbones connecting the backbones...

    Sorry, I'm a programmer. I don't know any more network stuff than is necessary to download pr0n on my breaks.
  • Yay! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    Now university students will be able to download porn and MP3s even faster!

    That's cool and all, but the backbone's not the problem. The last mile's the problem.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Psiren ( 6145 )
      Not for academic institutions. Before I left my previous job, I was connected to JANET, the Joint Academic Network. I could quite regularly download at over 1 megaBYTE/s from other universites. Granted many sites in the US were still slow, but my local Debian mirror was shit hot ;-)
      • Indeed, I work at a British university, and just graduated from another. The last mile problem doesn't exist for us (unless you count the mile across campus, but even then fast ethernet and decent switches solve that- maybe what we should be doing at home?) Janet has just been upgraded and this uni now has a 100Mbps link, of which about 5% is used. I guess this means the upgrade will last a fair bit (in internet time at leaset) and lets us play with the newest tech- which hopefully will do my skills and cv a favour ;-)
  • a single percent of it's total capacity right now.

    What does that mean? It's not even using up, in almost all cases, any more than a 1Gbps line would be using. Take a look at all that blue on the map. It seems to signify that this was a waste of time and money.

    Basically, I'm all for this great stuff, but until they find a use for it, it's just money wasted when it could be going to places and projects in technology that could actually benefit.
    • What does that mean? It's not even using up, in almost all cases, any more than a 1Gbps line would be using. Take a look at all that blue on the map. It seems to signify that this was a waste of time and money.

      Well the old European backbone was creaking slightly, so you can either upgrade incrementally to keep slightly ahead of demand, or oversupply now in the knowledge that in the next 5-10 years demand is going to keep going up and up.

      Sounds like they made the right choice to me.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "What does that mean? It's not even using up, in almost all cases, any more than a 1Gbps line would be using. Take a look at all that blue on the map. It seems to signify that this was a waste of time and money"

      No, what would be a waste of time and money would be if it was at 100% traffic - the whole point about building a network like this is that it will cope with researchers' increasing demands for bandwidth for years to come. Of course traffic's low to start with, because people have been living with much lower bandwidth for years and don't suddenly start sending loads more data the second a new backbone appears. The bandwidth will be used when it's required, not when it's available.
    • Did you even read the story? Its been there for 10 days !

      .. and you expect it to be at capacity already!


    • Basically, I'm all for this great stuff, but until they find a use for it, it's just money wasted when it could be going to places and projects in technology that could actually benefit.

      They most definately will find uses for it. I heard recently about the transfer of raw sequencing trace files (for the Human Genome Project) transfered from the UK-->USA. Turns out there wasnt enough bandwidth (these things are basically huge image files, and there are ALOT of them). Therefore they ship them over on DAT tapes.

      Furthermore, I quite regurlarly download multi-gigabyte quantaties of data for academic research.
    • Yeah, 640KB is enough memory for anyone.
    • It is not the right time in Europe IMHO. People come on the internet in the evening. Let's wait a few hours and see. (It's 17:40 CET now). Watch the students grab their dialy dose of Divx movies a few hour later.
    • Good point. Hey, you know that 512Mb RAM you just bought? Looks like you're not using all of it, must have been a waste of money.

      Think forward planning.


    • Wasted? I think a new network would be expected to be big enough for a few years, otherwise that would be a waste.

      The rule of thumb in a network such as this is that the bandwidth needed doubles every 9 months.

      Therefore the prediction from the rule of thumb is that this network will suffice for about 4 years and then it will be full.

      It looks sufficient to me, but it's not too much bandwidth by any means.
  • Ha! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Try and slashdot that !
    • Seriously, I've seen a number of "try and /. that" and "let's see if it can hold up to the slashdot effect"

      Well don't forget that a fast network is only part of the equation. If (by the love of a higher power) I had OC-192 laid down right up to my home webserver, my little P3-450 still wouldn't handle the /. effect (and that machine is running apache, not IIS ;)
  • It connects 30 countries... and is not in the USA?
  • Pronunciation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Gee-ahnt? Jeeant? How do you pronoune this silly, silly acronym?
  • by Spamuel ( 246002 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:27PM (#2682365)
    "Yes, it exists, and this research network is not even in the U.S.!"

    As if that's something hard to believe... considering the fast networks already developed and in development in Canada and Japan you'd think we could give other countries the credit they deserve. It's not like the US is the only country that knows how to string an Ethernet cable.
  • .nl Research (Score:3, Offtopic)

    by dcocos ( 128532 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:30PM (#2682390)
    Great now all my downloads of adul^H^H^H^H research content from the Netherlands will get to me faster.

    I hate e-commerce t-shirt [spankyourface.com]
  • I'm not trying to be a poseur, but really it doesn't. Let me put it into perspective another way: Right now with my measly cable modem I can download from many sites at 2Mbps+ (I get a sustained 220KB/s from Microsoft). That means that a mere 77 of me can saturate a T3, and 5,000 of me can saturate a 10Gbps. Now everyone doesn't download at the same time, but when you're talking about Europe with 100s of millions of people... BTW: I realize that this is a research network not for public consumption, but my point is moreso that it's apparently such a big deal that these 10Gbps connections exist. This naturally makes me wonder what sort of backbones exist on the North America network, because I never have a problem downloading at 220KB/second, so I presume it must be pretty extraordinary.

    • by cnkeller ( 181482 ) <cnkeller.gmail@com> on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:57PM (#2682542) Homepage
      This naturally makes me wonder what sort of backbones exist on the North America network, because I never have a problem downloading at 220KB/second, so I presume it must be pretty extraordinary.

      There is a program called pathchar [caida.org] which seems to do a pretty good job of characterizing pipe size. I've used this to monitor my DSL bandwidth; PacBell has a 45Mbit line heading out of it's DSLAM's (at least in my area). It was designed to be used with symmetric connections, my DSL line (1.5/128) reports like 330K, but otherwise it's a good start at measuring paths.

      From my office to microsoft's ftp servers I was easily able to determine that the slowest link is our T1 bewteen the ISP's T3 and our 10Mbps interface on our external router.

      • Yes, pathchar seems to be one of those invaluable cool tools that too few people know about. Used it succesfully back in '99... Too bad it was never officially 'finished' was it?

        Also, the presentation that explains how it works (which is reasonably straight-forward in theory, yet implementation seems quite sophisticated with some filtering done to remove noise from results) is worth reading. And for real "hard-core" network measurement stuff you can read the doctorate thesis Vern Paxson wrote, I think it's available from same download site... Good read if you really are interested about TCP performance analysis. The tool was (AFAIK) written for the thesis.

    • It really isn't that much. Last week I attended a seminar on 40Gbs network technology. It looks like the 40G networks will start becoming commonplace here in the next few years. The key is that there's not just one line of fiber laid across america (or the world). I'm not sure to as the bandwidth across America.
    • From the Guardian Article...:

      "Internet2 plans to offer 10 gigabit capacity by 2003," says Marine Chartois of Dante. "By that time I think we will already be looking at 40 gigabits per second. That covers a larger area, more people and a much more difficult environment."

      I think that this network is probably much faster than any backbone in the US, and by the time that the internet2 gets as fast as this the European network will be 4 times as fast.

      This network is much faster than anything currently in use in America.

      Sorry to ruin your day but America is behind on this one ;)

  • What? No Finland? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why? Why??
  • Hmm, it'd be pretty hard to slashdot geant.

    Speaking from a UK perspective, our academical network (JANET) has already rolled out something similar to this. OK, it's a fraction of 10gbps - at 622mbps. Obviously every university doesn't get that amount of bandwidth; it's usually around 155mbps going into each major city I think. However, I believe geant will pave the way for some serious warezing!

  • by tcyun ( 80828 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:38PM (#2682432) Journal
    You can check out the Internet2/Abilene weathermap at the Abilene NOC [iu.edu].

    Plus, the Internet2 backbone is moving to OC192 in the near term. Saturate that...

  • Well, I live in Luxembourg (Go Luxembourg! Woohoo!), and I seriously wonder to what they're running that line. Luxembourg (much to my chagrin) doesn't have an actual university. Makes me wonder. That, and the fact that that one line represents something like half the bandwidth running into the country...(actually, I think it's like a quarter. Either way, I'll never see any of it.:)
    • Restena is connected to Belgium and France with 155Mbit lines, as you can see in GEANT's poster (PDF file).

      It's not like Restena has the only connections in Lux., there are some others that have more or less nice lines. Thinking of P&T, Cegecom, ... I guess for 400k inhabitants that's sufficient.

      Oh yes, don't forget that they want to make the Cours Universitaire into a whole university, then there's at least 3 academic research centers, the schools (lycees) etc.

  • oh man (Score:5, Funny)

    by Marcus Brody ( 320463 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:38PM (#2682439) Homepage
    You can just imagine it over at Dante right now:

    "Wow, well done guys. Our new multi-gagabyte network is now fully operational"


    "Uh... Boss, hold on...."


    "Someone just posted us to slashdot!"

    *Poof* goes the bandwidth

    Seriously though, if they get slashdotted their really isnt any hope for the rest of us.

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:41PM (#2682450)
    Yes, it exists, and this research network is not even in the U.S!

    Gosh! Outside the US! In Europe!

    The Europeans really seem to be advancing don't they? A friend of mine visited Europe and told me that they've got TV, computers, mobile telephones, everything! How long before they catch up with the US?

    However, they are still really lagging in cultural things. They don't have that many great places to hang out as in the US like Starbucks or MacDonalds (just little coffee shops and resturants which are all different!) and they don't have so many TV channels (and a lot of the ones they do have are in funny languages!). And they aren't as advanced politically as the US - they don't have the personal freedoms that we have, like the feedom to carry guns and, er, the other freedoms that we have.

    (Yes, this is sarcasm).
    • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:53PM (#2682517) Homepage
      We have MacDonalds and Starbucks. But we also have enough taste not to frequent them.

      • I wish the French would send us their 24 hour crepe' stands.
      • I expected to find at least a couple of MacDonalds in the UK (I went out of my way to avoid them for the most part) but when we broke down and went into one to get some soft drinks and a snack in Edinburgh, we didn't expect it to be quite as busy as it was. (Oh, one had to wonder what was going on in their heads with that "Silver Straw" contest...)
    • Geesh, apparently someone needs to receive to be sent to re-education camp. [mcdonalds.com]

  • the internet is still U.S.-centric. Perhaps what you yanks don't realise is is that most well developed countries actually have decent internal networks, but since the lion's share of Internet content is hosted in America, this is irrelevant, since it is the pipe to the U.S. that matters.

    The diagram shows this - the two U.S. pipes are at around 30-50% utilisation (and are the smallest of the network), while the giant internal linkups are around 1-2%. What this says to me is that research typically doesn't use the bandwidth that they've provided for with this project. Consumer use of the internet will still get most content from America.

    But I guess there is always merit in planning for the future, and we can always benefit from making the internet less 'any-one-particular-country'-centric (despite it's origins in ARPA etc).
    • by Yokaze ( 70883 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @02:19PM (#2682987)
      >Consumer use of the internet will still get most content from America
      I think your logic is a bit flawed.

      The pipes to the U.S. do not necessarily carry data originating from the U.S.

      It shows that a large amount of traffic is routed through the U.S.

      This may include data originating in the US, but also data from Europe. It may even include data originating from Europe and targeted for Europe.
  • link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Marcus Brody ( 320463 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:46PM (#2682483) Homepage
    There was interesting article about this a few weeks ago in the gaurdian newspaper [guardian.co.uk].

    Although it's pretty thin on technical details, it does provide some insight into some of the questions people are posting, such as why they need all this bandwidth, why the US arent part of the project etc.
  • by mr.ska ( 208224 )
    Maybe I don't know enough about backbone architecture, but isn't an OC3 typical backbone stuff, running at 155Mbps?

    So what's so special about 10Mbps? Am I missing the point?

  • of course the majority of the network doesn't exist in the US.. since it's a european network.. it's like saying that China doesn't exist in the US.. it doesn't, except for the embassies and the spies..

    but what were those two US connections I saw on the GEAN network (sorry I don't have that funny looking G on it.. I'm too lazy to hit my character map to copy and paste it) US1 and US2? looks like someone's leeching off of my adsl.. funny, there's a 10GB/s backbone growing out of my dsl connection!
  • by jaavaaguru ( 261551 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @12:54PM (#2682522) Homepage
    I see people saying things like:
    • They're not even using 1% of capacity
    • They should invest more in the last mile
    I think that their idea might be to restructure the backbone services so that they are able to handle the imminent speed and reliability increases in the last mile.

    In future news we'll be seeing things like:
    x Telecomms corporation runs fibre in the last mile giving millions of European households the faster internet access that was made possible with the introduction of Géant's new backbone network.

    I may be wrong, but that's just my $0.02

  • I remeber when I was at Texas A&M I could get really good ping times on servers at Harvard, University of Texas (gasp), and other schools on the I2 for playing quake. Its funny what a traceroute will turn up. Thank you Internet2 :)

  • To quote a famouse obvious scientist. Sure it may be 1000X faster than a regular network but that just means we'll soon have machines putting out 1000x more data or have a 1000x more machines on a network, etc. No matter how much bandwidth there is it will always be maxed out.
  • by Reelworld ( 120784 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @01:09PM (#2682618)
    With all the comments about using it for faster downloads, etc, etc, people seem to be missing the fact that it'll only really speed your downloads up if you're accessing another site on GEANT. Personally when I was a student, connecting to other academic sites was never particularly slow - but JANET (the UK academic net) doesn't have particularly good peering to transatlantic links (clearly due to the cost).

    What GEANT will help make more possible is inter-site co-operation, and apps like high bandwidth video streams. In response to the guy who said it was a waste of money - give it time?
  • Slurp! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CoreDump ( 1715 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @01:17PM (#2682649) Homepage Journal
    You can even check its weathermap ! Well, obviously backbone links are still unused ... but that shouldn't last long, once people notice the sheer amount of bandwidth.
    You want to see some b/w suckage? Just have all the students fire up Gnutella/Morpheus and you'll hear a really loud slurping sound. :)

    Seriously though, this has ( as the US based Education networks and the like do ) the capability to further increase benefits for all of the students and researchers at the connected institutions. One of the things that Internet2 doesn't have in quite as much abundance is overwhelming raw bandwidth availability. Can't find the time to visit another school to attend a lecture? A course you want to take isn't offered at your school, but is at another one?

    Realtime video and remote tele-presence applications will easily consume this bandwidth and more ( assuming they aren't drowned out by DIVX and MP3s flying around. ).

  • by roryh ( 141204 )
    From what I understand, the need for so much bandwidth is due to the new particle accelerator at CERN, which'll be coming on line in a few years time. When that gets run, it'll generate data in the region of gigabits/s; that's why there's all these massive data pipes pointing at Switzerland - it's to shunt off all the data around Europe to get processed!
  • Where is the bandwidth being used right now? Not on the intraeuropean 10 Gbps links, noooooo! It's being used on the weakest links, the ones connected to US1 and US2. Looks like the porn is much better on this side of the Atlantic. At least, that's what the eurostudents think...
  • Some Perspective (Score:4, Informative)

    by bjtuna ( 70129 ) <brian&intercarve,net> on Monday December 10, 2001 @01:28PM (#2682708) Homepage
    This addresses fundamental routing issues, so my apologies to most of you, however I think some of this crowd needs some clarification (albeit a simplified version):

    To all those who are posting such things as "now all I need is fiber to my home" or "I wonder if the Slashdot effect can saturate it" or "how come my ping times to it are so slow?":

    You should know that hosts on these networks are generally a mix of globally- and non-globally-accessable. Meaning, many POPs that are "hooked up" to some high-speed initiative like vBNS or Abilene also have "commodity links." Commodity links are normal T3s, etc that are hooked up to a commercial ISP. This makes the site multi-homed, and helps minimize the amount of non-research-related traffic being sent over the high-speed links, because if you want to look at www.cnn.com from, say, a vBNS-connected box, it'll go over the commodity link instead of vBNS.

    So the answer is, yes: the Slashdot effect can probably affect GEANT's web site because the Slashdot effect would flood their commodity link. On the other hand, if you were at a GEANT node... good luck trying, and enjoy the pings :)

    brian@internet2.edu [mailto]
  • Where's NORDUNET? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doomdark ( 136619 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @01:56PM (#2682846) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps their weathermap was just pruned for space... or does the network not have connections to NORDUNET (the backbone network that connects universities of nordic countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland... and to other backbones like NSFnet or whatever it's called now)? Seems kind of weird if that is the case; the most connected countries in Europe not connected to this one?!
  • Some thoughts... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Monday December 10, 2001 @01:58PM (#2682859) Homepage Journal
    First, why only 10Gbps? Lucent have 3 Tb long-distance optic fibre, and the primary cost of cable is in putting it into the ground, NOT the hardware.

    Second, someone complained that they're only using a tiny percent of the bandwidth. Uhhh, the idea is to have SPARE capacity on a network. The three-way hook-up between Russia, Britain and the USA, for tele-surgery becomes actually practical for more than just extreme "he's very rich, but hasn't a hope in hell" cases. We might start seeing multi-national virtual operating theatres, capable of making use of a far wider range of skills than ever before possible.

    IMHO, spending a few Euro more on slightly higher-quality fibre, and a few more frequencies of laser, is peanuts in terms of the total cost of a project like this, but offers the potential for fantastic endeavors that might actually benefit people.

    The existing Internet would be fine, for most things, if it weren't loaded down with prawn and spam. However, it is, and we have to accept that. We also need to accept that the SERIOUS work on the Internet eats bandwidth for breakfast. When you're into real-time remote operation of a nuclear particle accelerator, online surgery, high-speed train emergency braking systems, etc, you really can't afford dropped packets, let alone serious lag.

    Sure, AOLers can handle lag, just fine. What difference does an extra few minutes make, in a 2-hour download of a pirated DVD? Why the hell should they care about packet collisions or TCP retransmits?

    But there are plenty of people, for whom a single packet collision could also be the last, if it happens at just the wrong moment. When you start talking about conditions like this, you absolutely need massive bandwidth. In fact, you really need three times that*.

    (*It's a rule-of-thumb that network lag becomes significant, once you exceed one-third of the network's capacity. The odds of some form of data corruption, at that point, become too high to do even basic scientific work. You REALLY want the network to stay around the 1-5% region, for the high-end stuff.)

    • by T-Punkt ( 90023 )
      > First, why only 10Gbps? Lucent have 3 Tb long-distance optic fibre, and the primary cost of
      > cable is in putting it into the ground, NOT the hardware.

      What makes you think they put fibers in the ground that explode when more than 10Gb/s is pushed through them? The article doesn't mention what kind of connection is used between the nodes. That 10GBps is a L2 figure, not L1 or L0.
      GEANT is a logical network, not a physical one.
      • Because this is the European Union we're talking
        about. Any agency that can pass laws on how bent
        a banana has to be is entirely LIKELY to put
        fibres into the ground that blow up when more than
        the designated amount is pushed through them.
    • Uh, they didn't lay their own fiber, they just purchased connectivity from commercial telcos.
  • At least he pointed where SSE2 was optimized, he did compare oranges with oranges as far as the x86 platform goes.

    Tom missed the obvious comparing Intel-heavily-optimized-SSE2-scene (skull with radiosity) with Athlon like if it was a simple 3d benchmark (he never mentionned the SSE2 optimisation in the radiosity engine that newtek boosted in 7.0b). At least Ace points it out and points out the difference in the render pipeline, which I find VERY professionnal and reliable, tom sucked big time at it, he even got nice emails telling him how to best benchmark on lightwave to make his number constant and not falling into the "specifically optimized for x or y operation" and like he does best: he didn't listen and continued with his flawed benchmarking on the LW platform.

    Kudos Ace.
  • Please tell me they're not running IPv4 on it.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor