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Singapore switches on super-fast 100Gbps network for researchers

The country's new SLIX network will allow rapid transmission of data between researchers -- and let students in partner universities enjoy super-fast Internet speeds.

Singapore now has a 100Gbps fibre network for researchers. NBN Co

Southeast Asia has its first 100Gbps network -- the SingAren-Lightwave Internet Exchange (SLIX). Meant for research and education purposes, SLIX was set up by the Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network (SingAren) at a cost of around S$15 million ($12 million, £7 million or AU$13 million).

Besides the obvious use case for researchers to download and upload research material quickly, students in partner universities in Singapore, such as the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University, are also able to enjoy quicker access to Google and Microsoft services (such as YouTube and patch files) thanks to content peering.

The SLIX network lets users transfer files as fast as 12.5GB per second, if the full bandwidth is used.

While that's usually not the case, the 100Gbps network does help genomic researchers upload databases for backup at a much faster rate than before. According to a SingAren spokeperson, it was previously easier (and cheaper) to mail a backup disk than performing an online data backup that would have taken days.

The SLIX network is also connected to other research networks in the region, such as AARNet in Australia and Japan's NICT. There are future plans to further boost the SLIX-NICT connection with a 100Gbps line.

100Gbps is ridiculously fast now, with 1Gbps being the norm for "fast" for consumers. But SingAren highlighted that as the network is comprised of dark fibre (i.e. unlit optical fibres) then if need be, it would be easy to increase the bandwidth to even faster speeds of 400Gbps or more.