CAVEwave™ End-to-End 10 Gbps Wavelength Inaugurates National LambdaRail

Participants: Maxine Brown, Thomas A. DeFanti

Chicago, IL

CAVEwave™ Provides OptIPuter Researchers Unprecedented Access and End-to-End Control of National Optical Networking Capabilities

Marking a new era in control over and accessibility to national-scale optical networking capabilities for the U.S. research community, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has acquired a dedicated 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) wavelength on the National LambdaRail (NLR) infrastructure from Chicago to San Diego. The 3,200-mile wavelength, known as the CAVEwave™, will initially support the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded OptIPuter project shared between UIC and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

“CAVEwave provides researchers with a deterministic network, with guaranteed bandwidth, schedulable times and known latency characteristics, in order to understand requirements for the real-time visualization, analysis, and correlation of terabytes and petabytes of data from multiple storage sites,” explained EVL director Tom DeFanti. “All this bandwidth, which supplements our existing network infrastructure, for less than the cost of a 32-node cluster at each end!”

NLR is a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies to provide a cutting-edge national scale network infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies. The defining characteristic of the NLR infrastructure is its ability to support many distinct networks for the U.S. research community using the same core infrastructure. The OptIPuter will be among several demonstrations supported by the NLR infrastructure at the upcoming SC2004 conference being held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from November 6-12.

“Without the visionary establishment of NLR, the national-scale of our OptIPuter research would be impossible,” says OptIPuter principal investigator Larry Smarr, who is also director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a UCSD and University of California, Irvine (UCI) partnership. The OptIPuter team is excited to be an early adopter of NLR and CAVEwave services, and enthusiastically accepted NLR’s invitation to showcase our research efforts in the NLR booth at SC2004.

“As the first national optical networking infrastructure owned and controlled by the U.S. research community, NLR enables unprecedented control and flexibility in meeting the needs of cutting-edge research projects,” said Tom West, CEO of NLR. As the CAVEwave demonstrates, NLR is a cost-effective way to meet a range of needs, from project-specific, dedicated experimental networks to shared regional and national research and education production networks.

CAVEwave extends from the EVL laboratory to the StarLight optical internet exchange in Chicago, to the Pacific Northwest GigaPoP (PNWGP) in Seattle, to the UCSD campus. It is connected via campus dark fiber to OptIPuter laboratories at UCSD, and to OptIPuter sites on the UCI and University of Southern California campuses via CENIC’s eXperimental Development (XD) multi-gigabit network. This configuration enables future research among Chicago, San Diego, the University of Washington, and international colleagues who connect to the PNWGP via Pacific Wave on the U.S. west coast, or to StarLight in Chicago.

“CAVEwave’s connectivity, and the applications it enables, represents a milestone,” says PNWGP and University of Washington vice president of computing and communications Ron Johnson. The network research community connecting to CAVEwave is orchestrating many major new developments that will have major implications in how researchers interact with one another and their data in the months and years to come.

In initial tests between Chicago and San Diego to prepare for SC2004 demonstrations, EVL researchers successfully retrieved datasets from a storage cluster at the UCSD San Diego Supercomputing Center and displayed them on a 30-megapixel display in Chicago. A seismic dataset from UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) was rendered and visualized using EVL’s Vol-a-Tile, a volume rendering tool for very large, time-series scientific datasets. Rat cerebellum ultra-high-resolution microscopy data from UCSD’s National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) was displayed using EVL’s JuxtaView, a tool for visualizing very-high-resolution two-dimensional imagery on scalable tiled displays. Both Vol-a-Tile and JuxtaView are being developed under the OptIPuter grant.

About CAVEwave™
The University of Illinois at Chicago has a persistent 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) connection to the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of California in San Diego via its own private wavelength on the National LambdaRail (NLR) infrastructure. Called “CAVEwave,” this link is dedicated to networking research and development. The CAVEwave is also available to transport experimental traffic between Federal agencies, international research centers, and corporate research projects that bring 1-10 GE wavelengths to Chicago, Seattle, and San Diego. The CAVEwave can be used to prototype and measure applications that can be moved to production later on, mitigating the risk of early adoption by mission critical users. The CAVE® is EVL’s virtual reality room invention; the CAVE was successfully licensed for commercialization. The CAVEwave is so named because funds derived from this licensing were spent to procure the 10GE wavelength. CAVE and CAVEwave are trademarks of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

About the Electronic Visualization Laboratory
The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a graduate research laboratory specializing in high-performance networked visualization; it is a joint effort of UIC’s College of Engineering and School of Art and Design, and represents the oldest formal collaboration between engineering and art in the country offering graduate MS, PhD and MFA degrees. Having received worldwide recognition for developing the original CAVE® and ImmersaDesk™ virtual-reality systems, EVL’s current research focus is grounded in collaborative visualization and virtual reality having users in different locations around the world work together over high-speed networks in shared, virtual environments, as if they were together in the same room. For more information, see

About OptIPuter
The OptIPuter is a five-year, $13.5-million project funded by the National Science Foundation. It will enable scientists who are generating massive amounts of data to interactively visualize, analyze, and correlate their data from multiple storage sites connected via optical networks. University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) lead the research team, with academic partners at Northwestern University; San Diego State University; University of Southern California / Information Sciences Institute; University of California, Irvine; University of Texas A&M; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/National Center for Supercomputing Applications; and affiliate partners at the U.S. Geological Survey EROS Data Center, University of Amsterdam and NASA; and, industrial partners Big Bangwidth, Calient Networks, CANARIE, Chiaro Networks, Cisco, Glimmerglass Networks, HP, IBM, Level (3) Communications, Lucent Technologies, Sun Microsystems and Telcordia. For more information, see

About National LambdaRail, Inc.
National LambdaRail (NLR) is a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies to provide a national scale infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies and applications. NLR puts the control, the power and the promise of experimental network infrastructure in the hands of our nation’s scientists and researchers. For more information, see

About Pacific Northwest GigaPoP
The Pacific NorthWest GigaPoP (PNWGP) is a leading next-generation international and domestic network, exchange and testbed facility and a provider of advanced networking capabilities across the northwest. PNWGP is a founder of both National LambdaRail (NLR) and of Pacific Wave, the distributed U.S. west coast-based international and national interconnection and exchange infrastructure which it operates in partnership with CENIC. For more information about PNWGP, see; for more information about Pacific Wave, see

About StarLight
StarLight is an advanced optical infrastructure and proving ground for network services optimized for high-performance applications. Operational since summer 2001, StarLight is a 1GE and 10GE switch / router facility for high-performance access to participating networks and also offers true optical switching for wavelengths. StarLight is being developed by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University, and the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with Canada’s CANARIE and the Netherlands’ SURFnet. STAR TAP and StarLight are made possible by major funding from the US National Science Foundation to UIC. StarLight is a service mark of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For more information, see

National LambdaRail, Inc.
Greg Wood
(202) 331-5360

Maxine Brown
(312) 996-3002


Date: November 2, 2004 - January 25, 2005

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