StarWave: A Multi-100 Gbps Communications Exchange Facility in Chicago Showcased at SC11

November 15, 2011

SEATTLE -- November 15, 2011 -- Today at the 24th annual SC Conference (SC11), the foremost international high-performance computing conference, the U.S. Midwest’s Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN) announced the implementation of StarWave, a multi 100 Gbps exchange facility located at the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility in Chicago.

At SC11, StarWave is being used to support multiple national 100 Gbps demonstrations that show how high-performance, high-capacity networks can significantly improve the way scientific research is conducted worldwide. With major funding provided by the National Science Foundation, the StarWave facility was designed by the MREN and StarLight consortia to exclusively support large-scale data-intensive scientific research.

Increasingly, scientific research requires gathering, analyzing, and transporting extremely large volumes of data among multiple locations. These data volumes far exceed the capacity of commonly implemented data networks. Beyond providing more capacity, StarWave supports dynamic and complex data flows required by a variety of scientific communities, by creating flexible dynamic lightpaths that can be created instantly for short periods or for the long term. The requirements, which cannot be met by today’s general data networks, include those that are related to high-performance, advanced programmability, dynamic provisioning, and support for specialized protocols.

In partnership with the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University and the Laboratory for Advanced Computing (LAC) at the University of Chicago, StarWave is also used to enable research in developing innovative high-performance communications architecture, technologies, capabilities, and infrastructure to meet the emerging and anticipated demands of 21st-Century e-Science. StarWave will also provide 100 Gbps gateways to national and international R&E networks.

“Data intensive scientific research requires new services and techniques for extremely high-capacity, high-performance, and flexible optical transport locally and worldwide, said Joe Mambretti, Director of iCAIR and MREN. "With our research partners, we are improving methods for data intensive scientific research by leveraging innovative transport services based on 100 Gbps technologies."

Other key enablers of future scientific research that are being developed are new techniques for investigation based on extremely large volumes of data by closely integrating dynamic high-performance networks with dynamic high-performance clouds. These techniques can accelerate scientific discovery because cloud-based networks can easily and flexibly transfer and process science data at the petascale level.

“A special focus of the StarWave facility will be the development of new capabilities for data-intensive science based on advanced cloud computing architecture,” said Bob Grossman, Director of the LAC and Co-Director of the Open Cloud Consortium.

iCAIR, Ciena, MREN, and LAC are building a long-term research partnership directed at creating next-generation services, capabilities, technologies and facilities for advanced high-performance applications. The Ciena 5400 family of reconfigurable service switches provide OTN switching and intelligent optical resource control for the StarWave facility. Additionally, StarWave's 100 Gbps network is powered by Ciena’s coherent 100G optical technologies.

"High-speed, high-capacity networks play a critical role in global Research and Education efforts, enabling organizations to collaborate on research, development and leading-edge discoveries. Ciena coherent optical transmission and OTN switching solutions provide the foundation for many of these networks, and we have a long history working with institutions like iCAIR to help transform how research and development is conducted," said Rod Wilson, Ciena’s senior director for external research. "We are proud to partner with MREN, iCAIR and LAC in showcasing these ground-breaking demonstrations, including those providing end-to-end 100 Gbps streams. that pushes beyond the limitations of today network capabilities to improve the way researchers interact and conduct complex research innovation.

About the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN)

The Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN), an advanced research and education (R&E) network provides services among seven states in the upper Midwest, including the management of a metro-area optical networking facility located at the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility. The MREN facility exclusively focuses on providing service and infrastructure support for large-scale data-intensive R&E activities, including connections to major national and international advanced networks. (www.mren,org)

About StarLight

StarLight is the world's most advanced national and international communications exchange facility. StarLight provides advanced networking services and technologies that are optimized for high-performance, large-scale metro, regional, national and global applications. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), StarLight was designed and developed by researchers, for researchers. StarLight is managed by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University, the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, and Calit2 at University of California, San Diego, in partnership with Canada's CANARIE national networking organization and The Netherlands' SURFnet. (

About the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University

The International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University accelerates leading-edge innovation and enhanced global communications through advanced technologies, in partnership with numerous international community, and national partners. iCAIR partners with the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Calit2/UCSD, in collaboration with Canada's CANARIE and the Netherlands' SURFnet, to manage and grow the StarLight optical network exchange. (

About the Laboratory for Advanced Computing

The Laboratory of Advanced Computing (LAC) at the University of Chicago performs research in the analysis of big data, data intensive computing, cloud computing and high performance networking. (

About Ciena

Ciena is the network specialist, collaborating with customers worldwide to unlock the strategic potential of their networks and fundamentally change the way they compete. With focused innovation, Ciena brings together the reliability and capacity of optical networking with the flexibility and economics of Ethernet, unified by a software suite that delivers the industry’s leading network automation. Ciena’s 5400 Family features a wide array of integrated service layer capabilities, advanced and intelligent bandwidth management functionalities and an unmatched scalability. It offers 3.6 Terabits per second (Tb/s) (5430 RSS) and 1.2 Tb/s (5410) of OTN, TDM and Packet- with intelligent switching combined with a field proven control plane for bandwidth aggregation and management. (

Last Updated: