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Supercomputers connected at 100 gigabits per second

The Department of Energy's Advanced Networking Initiative will initially connect three research supercomputers and then link to all DOE national labs.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratories has the Jaguar supercomputer which has 224,256 processing cores is used for researching nuclear fusion among other areas. Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Now that's some serious bandwidth.

The Department of Energy today is scheduled to officially unveil the Advanced Networking Initiative, a network that will connect three supercomputer centers at 100 gigabits per second.

The network, which the DOE says is 10 times faster than commercial Internet speeds, will allow for collaborative research in a variety fields, including mining data from the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, predicting changes in the climate, and genetics. Linking the the first three supercomputers at DOE national labs will be announced today at the SC11 supercomputer conference going on this week in Seattle.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the $62 million project can set the stage for the next generation of Internet networking by leaping ahead of the state of the art from the commercial world. The system will use new optical networking technology designed to reduce the number of routers used and ease maintenance.

"Initially, this breakthrough will make sharing information between our labs much more efficient and pave the way for new discoveries, but it also holds the potential to change and improve our lives much like the original commercialization of the Internet did in the mid-90s," Chu said in a statement.

Initially, the supercomputers at three DOE national labs--Argonne in Illinois, Oak Ridge in Tennessee, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories in California--will be linked at the 100 Gbps speeds for data-intensive research. By the end of 2012, the DOE expects to upgrade its existing Energy Sciences Network (ESNet) to all national labs.

With that sort of bandwidth speed, which the DOE said is 50,000 times faster than a typical iPhone connection, researchers will be able to analyze the reams of data generated every day during scientific experiments. By letting remote scientists get access to experimental data, different fields of research can progress more quickly, the DOE said.

Among the projects expected to benefit from the Advanced Networking Initiative are the Large Hadron Collider, climate research, and analyzing genetic codes of plants and micro-organisms in the development of biofuels.