Canadian Researchers Break Records for Data Transfer with Newly Established "Light Path"

September 30, 2002

A Terabyte of Data Transferred to Switzerland With Speeds Doubling Previous Records

(Vancouver, BC September 30, 2002) TRIUMF, in partnership with Canarie Inc. and Altas Canada, announced today the successful transfer of a Terabyte of research data at rates equivalent to a full DVD in less than one minute over a newly established "light path" extending 12,000 kms from TRIUMF in Vancouver to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

"The ability to establish dedicated "light paths" across several networks is required for high-performance research applications and is expected to be a cornerstone of future commercial applications, including high definition multimedia on demand," said Bill St. Arnaud, Senior Director Networks Projects from Canarie Inc.

"The transfer of large quantities of data has been difficult in the past and the "light path" technology allows researchers around the world to share findings and data," said Corrie Kost, Project Leader from TRIUMF. "This project demonstrates that with "off the shelf" equipment, high speed data transfer can be the next generation technology for commercial and research institutions."

The demonstration, part of the iGRID 2002 conference held last week in Amsterdam, required dedicated portions of fibre-optic networks, spanning one provincial (BCnet) and two national research and education networks (CA*net 4 and SURFnet) to establish the on-demand private network. Experiments were also conducted on the DataTag link, a dedicated European-US research link between Chicago and CERN.

The project culminated in establishing the first large scale end-to-end "light path" to transfer a Terabyte of research data (equivalent to the amount of data on approximately 1500 CDs) from disk-to-disk at rates equivalent to a full CD in less than 8 seconds (or a full length DVD movie in less than 1 minute). Peak transfer rates in excess of 1 Gigabit/second were achieved, twice the previous known record for this distance.

This is the first establishment of an inter-domain end to end "light path" dedicated for a research application, a core design principle of CA*net 4. The "light path" directly connecting TRIUMF and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the longest known single hop network ­ spanning the distance from Vancouver to Geneva via optical internet exchanges in Chicago, Amsterdam, and CERN. These exchanges, respectively, STARLIGHT and NETHERLIGHT, the CERN Internet Exchange Point, are next generation peering points for Research and Education networks.

The four member research team was comprised of Corrie Kost and Steve McDonald from TRIUMF, Bryan Caron from the Center for Subatomic Research at the University of Alberta and Wade Hong from the Department of Physics at Carleton University. The project deployed the 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology (capable of speeds 2500 times greater than the fastest available residential service) at each end of the "light path" using high performance network switching equipment generously provided by Extreme Networks.

A number of file transfer programs were demonstrated to be capable of transferring data at very high rates. "Tsunami", developed at Indiana University's Advanced Network Management Lab ( to overcome the shortcomings of the Transmission Control Protocol over very large distances was cooperatively being tested as part of this trial. Utilizing modifications to the Linux TCP/IP stack, developed at the California Institute of Technology and CERN, the team was able to dramatically improve the performance of other commonly used file transfer programs.

About TRIUMF (
TRIUMF has the world's largest cyclotron and is considered to be one of the major particle accelerator laboratories in the world. It is operated as a joint venture by five Canadian universities and counts an additional six universities as associate members. It is funded via a contribution agreement through the National Research Council of Canada.

About the Light Path Project
Contributors to the Light Path project included:

Canarie and CA*net4
Contact: Bill St. Arnaud

Contact: Michael Hrybyk, President & CEO

Atlas Canada
Contact: James Pinfold

Contact: Olivier H. Martin

Extreme Networks

Advanced Network Management Lab
Contact: Mark Meiss 812-855-1878

For further information:
Erin Airton, Communications
Tel :604-808-6420

Corrie Kost, Project Leader ­ TRIUMF
Tel: 604-222-

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