The Future Looks Bright For STARLIGHT℠

December 5th, 2001 - December 4th, 2001

Categories: Networking


The new “Science Technology And Research Light-Illuminated Gigabit High-performance Transit” is a constellation of words that condense nicely into the acronym “StarLight℠”.

An international high-speed optical fiber network connection point - developed and operated in partnership by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and the Argonne National Laboratory - StarLight℠ links a global network of research computers via advanced fiber optic equipment.

StarLight℠ is both a stable high-speed link for advanced scientific work and provides a site for public and private information technology clients to test hardware for reliability, much as a speedway is used to test new cars.

StarLight℠ provides a communication intersection for the “information super highway” as no other. As UIC computer science professor and StarLight℠ co-creator Tom DeFanti put it: “Think of a two-lane road passing by your house as the equivalent of, say, a DSL or cable modem line. StarLight℠ supports networking equivalent to a 10,000-lane highway.”

The Netherlands’ national research and education computer network SURFnet has signed up to be the fastest customer to connected to the Chicago-based facility, moving data at the blazing speed of 2.5 giga (billion) bits a second. “We’re working to get it up to 10 gigabits - and beyond,” said DeFanti. The higher speeds will be reached as early as next spring.

With 10 gigabit links expected to Canada, Asia and other European sites within the next year, StarLight℠ promises to support real-time, multi-site virtual reality presentations, advanced interactive data mining, remote control of large scale telescopes and microscopes and other computing advances that will let the international scientific research community collaborate over the challenging problems of our time.