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Project Description

High Performance Intercontinental Connectivity

A network infrastructure with high speed/high performance is needed to provide connectivity throughout Europe and between Europe and the US. Currently, connectivity among the European HEP community is provided by a set of national research networks interconnected by a European backbone managed by DANTE. The current European backbone, TEN-155, is now being gradually replaced by a new-generation infrastructure: GÉANT.

Many EU sites are currently connected to the US through either STAR TAP in Chicago or at 60 Hudson Street in New York. Through these points, direct peerings with other research networks are made (e.g. ESnet, the Energy Science Network, vBNS, Internet2/Abilene, MREN, and Canarie in Canada).

Currently, all these interconnections are purely electrical and operate typically at 155 Mbps or above. The advent of StarLight in Chicago will, however, change the scene dramatically. In addition to providing a conventional Gigabit Ethernet based Internet Exchange Point, initially at 1Gbps (2001), and then 10Gbps as soon as the 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard is finalized (2002), StarLight will also strive to embody completely new concepts such as an "all optical" interconnection point at speeds up to 40Gbps per lambda. On demand switching of wavelengths (lambdas) on an end to end basis based on the new Optical BGP (OBGP) and Generalised Multi Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) concepts will be provided.

The EU community needs to be integrally involved in such developments in order to maintain its position in this rapidly developing field. CERN will play a special role in this testbed: from 2005 onwards, the large scientific experiments at CERN will begin to produce multi-petabytes of scientific data and this information must be distributed to multiple sites both in Europe and in the US.

We therefore propose to establish a high performance circuit (at 2.5 Gbps or more) between Europe and the USA with termination points at CERN in Geneva and Chicago (StarLight). This link will be dedicated exclusively to network research and intensive data access applications. This provision will complement the services provided by the Research Networks for both intra and inter-continental connections. CERN will guarantee, in agreement with GÉANT and the other partners, an adequate access to the GÉANT network in order to allow good connectivity to the transatlantic link to all the partners.

This proposal is therefore both innovative and timely as the major Grid projects must test and understand such intercontinental high bandwidth connections now if they are to develop working global Grid solutions.