Pacific Northwest Gigapop


News & Events

Pacific Research Platform Awarded Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications

The Pacific Research Platform has been awarded CENIC's 2016 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications.

The Pacific Research Platform, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, has been selected by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) as a recipient of the 2016 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications. The NSF proposal investigators Larry Smarr, Tom DeFanti, Frank Würthwein, Phil Papadopoulos, (UC San Diego), and Camille Crittenden (UC Berkeley), have had essential technical support from John Graham (UC San Diego), John Hess (CENIC), and Eli Dart (ESnet).

From biomedical data to particle physics, researchers depend heavily on high-speed access to large datasets, scientific instruments, and computing resources. To meet the needs of researchers in California and beyond, the National Science Foundation awarded a five-year grant to fund the Pacific Research Platform (PRP). The PRP’s data sharing architecture, with end-to-end 10 – 100 gigabits per second connections, will enable region-wide virtual co-location of data with computing resources and enhanced security options.

The PRP will enable fast and secure data transfers between participating campuses, which include all ten University of California campuses, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and San Diego State University – all of which are connected via the 100 Gbps CENIC Network. The PRP extends to include the University of Washington, Montana State, the University of Hawaii System, Northwestern University, UIC, and internationally to the University of Amsterdam. Since the PRP was funded, other partners have joined, including the University of Tokyo, and Clemson University. The PRP provides high-speed links to five supercomputer centers (UCSD’s SDSC, LBNL’s NERSC, NCAR, NCSA, and NASA’s NAS) as well as the Open Science Grid and NSF’s Chameleon cloud. Finally, PRP interconnects with high-performance networking sites at PNWGP, FRGP, MREN, Starlight, and internationally to Australia’s AARnet and Korea’s KISTI/KREONet.

“To accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, researchers must get the data they need, where they need it, and when they need it,” said UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Larry Smarr, principal investigator of the PRP and director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “This requires a high-performance data freeway system in which we use optical lightpaths to connect data generators and users of that data.”

The bringing together of cross-disciplinary teams of data science application researchers and networking engineers is facilitated by the combined 30-year experience of Calit2 and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), two of the University of California Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation. Camille Crittenden (UC Berkeley), Deputy Director of CITRIS and PRP co-PI said, “The Pacific Research Platform is an ideal vehicle for collaboration between CITRIS and Calit2 given the growing importance of universities working together for the benefit of society.”

The project uses CENIC’s California Research and Education Network (CalREN), Pacific Wave (a project of CENIC and PNWGP) and integrates Science DMZs, developed by ESnet as secure network enclaves for data-intensive science and high-speed data transport, thereby creating a secure, seamless fabric that will enable researchers worldwide to collaborate while not losing any of the advantages of network architecture specially optimized for the unique needs of big-data research.

“ESnet is committed to working closely with the Pacific Research Platform to leverage the Science DMZ and Science Engagement concepts to enable collaborating scientists to advance their research,” said Eli Dart, ESnet Network Engineer. The project also received strong support from members of the UC Information Technology Leadership Council, led by UCOP CIO Tom Andriola, which includes Chief Information Officers [CIOs] from the ten UC campuses, five medical schools, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and the Office of the President.

The PRP supports a broad range of data-intensive research projects that will have wide-reaching impacts on science and technology worldwide. Cancer genomics, human and microbiome integration, biomolecular structure modeling, galaxy formation and evolution, telescope surveys, particle physics data analysis, simulations for earthquakes and natural disasters, climate modeling, virtual reality and ultra-resolution video development are just a few of the projects that are benefiting from the use of the PRP. The PRP will be extensible across other data-rich domains as well as other national and international networks potentially leading to a national and eventually global data-intensive research cyber-infrastructure.

“Research in data-intensive fields is increasingly multi-investigator and multi-institutional, depending on ever more rapid access to ultra-large heterogeneous and widely distributed datasets,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The Pacific Research Platform will make it possible for PRP researchers to transfer large datasets to where they work from their collaborators’ labs or from remote data centers.”

“PRP will enable researchers to use standard tools to move data to and from their labs and their collaborators’ sites, supercomputer centers and data repositories distant from their campus IT infrastructure, at speeds comparable to accessing local disks,” said co-PI Thomas A. DeFanti, a research scientist in Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego.

The computers that “terminate” the optical fiber Big Data flows in DMZ systems, sending, receiving, measuring, and monitoring data, are termed by ESnet Data Transfer Nodes (DTNs). Within each campus Science DMZ, the Pacific Research Platform will deploy a DTN developed at UC San Diego under the NSF-funded Prism@UCSD project, led by PRP co-PI Papadopoulos. Dubbed Flash I/O Network Appliances (FIONA), they are modestly priced, Linux-based computers made of commodity parts, and featuring terabytes of flash drives optimized for data-centric applications. “FIONAs act as data super-capacitors for the Science Teams,” said Papadopoulos.

John Graham, a Senior Development Engineer in Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute has been building and deploying FIONAs to PRP campuses. CENIC’s John Hess has led a large group of network engineers, network providers, and measurement programmers from PRP sites that have been measuring and optimizing throughput from to FIONA to FIONA for over 14 months.

Frank Würthwein, a physicist at UC San Diego and SDSC program director, is a PRP co-PI; he leads technical development of the application groups and monitor progress from the scientists’ perspective. “The PRP is not a build-it-and-they-will-come exercise,” said Würthwein, who is also executive director of the Open Science Grid. “The cyberinfrastructure is responsive to the existing and expected needs of data-intensive applications, so we are building a very science-focused platform that will put these universities above and beyond what other regions already have.” The PRP-wide Large Hadron Collider (LHC) cyberinfrastructure is a direct outgrowth of the SDSC LHC UC-wide initiative, started in October 2014 and led by PRP co-PI Würthwein.

“The PRP is an extraordinary collaboration among researchers, distributed computer architects, network engineers, measurement experts, and multi-institutional IT leaders – all of whom are working together to create a dedicated research cyberinfrastructure that will be a national, even global, model, said Louis Fox, CENIC’s President, and CEO. “The impact of the PRP will create ripples across the diverse CENIC community, as innovations in the research community have done since CENIC’s inception.”

The PRP Science Teams include:

Particle Physics Data Analysis
UCSD: A.Yagil, F. Würthwein (team leader); UCI: A. Lankford, A. Taffard, D. Whiteson; UCSC: A. Seiden, J. Nielsen, B. Schumm; Caltech: H. Newman; UC Davis: M. Chertok, J. Conway, R. Erbacher, M. Mulhearn, M. Tripathi; UCSB: C. Campagnari; UCR: R. Clare, O. Long, S. Wimpenny

Astronomy and Astrophysics Data Analysis
Telescope Surveys: LBNL: Peter Nugent; UCD: Tony Tyson; Caltech/IPAC/JPL, UCB, Stanford/ SLAC, UCI, UCSC, UW
Galaxy Evolution: UCI: CGE, director James Bullock; UCSC: AGORA, directors Joel Primack & Piero Madau
Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Caltech: David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory; UCSD: Frank Würthwein

Biomedical Data Analysis
Cancer Genomics Hub/Browser: UCSC: David Haussler, Brad Smith
Microbiome and Integrative ‘Omics: UCSD: Rob Knight, Larry Smarr; UCD: David Mills, Carlito Labrilla; Caltech: Sarkis Mazmanian; UCSF: Sergio Baranzini
Integrative Structural Biology: UCSF: Andrej Sali

Earth Sciences Data Analysis
Data Analysis and Simulation for Earthquakes and Natural Disasters: UCB: Steve Mahin, with UCSD, UCD, UCLA, UCI, USC, Stanford, OSU, and UW. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) 
Climate Modeling: NCAR/UCAR: Anke Kamrath, Marla Meehl
California/Nevada Regional Climate: UCSD/SIO: Dan Cayan
CO2 Subsurface Modeling: SDSU: Christopher Paolini and Jose Castillo

Scalable Visualization, Virtual Reality, and Ultra-Resolution Video
UCSD: Tom DeFanti, Falko Kuester, Tom Levy, Jurgen Schulze; UIC: Maxine Brown; UHM, Jason Leigh; UCD: Louise Kellogg; UCI: Magda El Zarki, Walt Scacchi; UCM, Marcelo Kallmann, Nicola Lercari; UvA: Cees de Laat

Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year by CENIC to highlight the exemplary innovations that leverage ultra high-bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to transform the ways in which instruction and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas.


About CENIC •
CENIC connects California to the world—advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration and economic growth. The nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers and other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.