UK's first optical network gives boost to e-Science

November 04, 2005

The UK's first dedicated optical network for research will be put to the test at SC05 (SuperComputing 2005) by e-Science projects in astronomy, particle physics and molecular biology. SC05, the premier international conference on high performance computing, networking and storage, takes place from 12-18 November 2005 in Seattle, Washington State, US.

UKLight, the UK's high bandwidth (1Gbit/sec) optical network, linked to similar networks around the world, enables researchers to transfer far greater amounts of data directly from one remote location to another than would be feasible with conventional, packet-switched networks. Installation of the first phase was completed this summer when the final three of nine UK academic sites were connected.

Some of the demonstrations at SC05 will push data transfer rates beyond their present limits, whereas others will show how UKLight's enhanced quality of service is enabling researchers to tackle challenging scientific problems that have remained out of reach until now.The umbrella programme which brings projects such as these together to test UKLight is called ESLEA (Exploitation of Switched Lightpaths for e-Science Applications). "These projects have already provided invaluable insights into the potential of UKLight, and early indications are that its high bandwidth facility will significantly enhance the UK's e-Science research capability," says Mr Colin Greenwood, ESLEA project manager at the National e-Science Centre, Edinburgh.
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UKLight was commissioned by the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) committee for the support of research (JCSR) in June 2004. It will be incorporated into SuperJanet 5, the upgrade to the UK academic network at the end of 2006. The nine UKLight nodes are at University College, London, Cambridge, Leeds, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Lancaster, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Contacts:
Mr Colin Greenwood
ESLEA project manager, National e-Science Centre
tel. 44-131-651-4036
e-mail: coling@nesc.ac.uk

Dr Shantenu Jha
University College London
tel. 44-207-679-5300
e-mail: s.jha@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Ralph Spencer
Jodrell Bank
tel. 44-147-757-1321
e-mail: res@jb.man.ac.uk

Dr Roger Jones
Lancaster University
tel. 44-152-459-4487
e-mail: Roger.Jones@lancaster.ac.uk

Dr Richard Hughes-Jones
The University of Manchester
tel. 44-161-275-4117
e-mail: R.Hughes-Jones@manchester.ac.uk

Judy Redfearn,
JISC/e-Science Core Programme
e-Science/Research communications officer
tel. 776-835-6309
e-mail: judy.redfearn@epsrc.ac.uk

Links:Notes for editors
1. e-Science is the large scale science that can be carried out by pooling access to very large digital data collections, very large scale computing resources and high performance visualisation held at different sites.

2. A computing grid refers to geographically dispersed computing resources that are linked together by software known as middleware so that the resources can be shared. The vision is to provide computing resources to the consumer in a similar way to the electric power grid. The consumer can access electric or computing power without knowing which power station or computer it is coming from.


3. The UK e-Science Programme is a coordinated £230M initiative involving all the Research Councils and the Department of Trade and Industry. It has also leveraged industrial investment of £30M. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council manages the e-Science Core Programme, which is developing generic technologies, on behalf of all the Research Councils.


4. The UK e-Science Programme as a whole is fostering the development of IT and grid technologies to enable new ways of doing faster, better or different research, with the aim of establishing a sustainable, national e-infrastructure for research and innovation. Further information at www.rcuk.ac.uk/escience.


5. JISC - the Joint Information Systems Committee - is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies (HEFCE), and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources. Information about JISC, its services and programmes can be found at www.jisc.ac.uk/
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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