ERCIM News No.31 - October 1997

First German Gigabit Network Testbed

by Peter Wunderling

The first Gigabit Network Testbed in Germany started on 1 August 1997. The project is sponsored by 'Verein zur Förderung eines Deutschen Forschungsnetzes, e.V', the German Research Network Association, and the Federal Minister for Education, Science, Research and Technology of Germany with additional funding of the participants GMD ­ German National Research Centre for Information Technology and the Research Centre Jülich (Forschungs-zentrum Jülich - FZJ).

The main areas of investigation of the Gigabit Testbeds are WAN/LAN interworking, HIPPI/ATM networking, connecting high performance computing (HPC) systems, heterogeneous meta-computing, and remote visualization. Several institutes of both research centres are involved in these investigations. Only the networking aspects are discussed in this article.

The prerequisite for this project was the availability of a fibre optic link between both research centres (about 100 km). The link including the SDH equipment is provided by o.tel.o Service GmbH, a subsidiary company of a German energy supplier. SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) is the base for high speed ATM links. At the beginning of the project the SDH connection is configured for a maximum transmission speed of 622 Mbps (Megabits per second).

Architecture of the German Gigabit Network Testbed.

Via this link the ATM networks of GMD and FZJ are connected by using ATM switches (ASX-1000) of 'FORE Systems' with STM4 ports (synchronous transfer mode, 622 Mbps). Both ATM networks are already running 622 Mbps on the backbone; therefore the total bandwidth will be offered to the applications. The two HPC-systems CRAY T3E and IBM SP2 will be connected via a HIPPI/ATM gateway (HIPPI ­ High Performance Parallel Interface, which operates at 800 Mbps) to the ATM networks because, up to now, there are no 622 Mbps ports available.

It is planned to increase the speed to 2.4 Gbps between both research centres as soon as STM16 ports are available for the ATM switches (I/98). Furthermore, it is planned to expand the Gigabit Network Testbed in the direction of Cologne. Other research centres, the University of Cologne and, in particular, some television companies are interested in participating in this project, eg to use and test this high speed network for applications like the 'virtual studio' or 'Cyberstage' of GMD.

Please contact:
Peter Wunderling - GMD
Tel: +49 2241 14 2930
E-mail: peter.wunderling@gmd.de

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