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June 2, 1997

UCSC is a member of a consortium of California universities to develop new electronic superhighway

By Terry Colvin, UC Office of the President

A consortium of California private and public universities, including the University of California (and UC Santa Cruz), has embarked on a project to develop a sophisticated new network that will deliver information to each university at speeds at least 100 times faster than today's Internet.

The Consortium for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) was formed by the University of California, the California Institute of Technology, the California State University, Stanford University, and the University of Southern California (USC). CENIC will design and deploy CalREN-2, an advanced electronic superhighway that will link California's institutions of higher education to each other and to the national high-speed network infrastructure.

CalREN-2 will be able to deliver information in ways more varied and with greater reliability than the traditional Internet can now.

"The random performance experienced by users of today's Internet is not good enough," said M. Stuart Lynn, UC associate vice president and principal investigator for the grant.

"The electronic highway is faced with rush-hour traffic most of the day. We need reliable service delivery," said Lynn, adding that CalREN-2 will provide a stable high-performance electronic superhighway over which new types of Internet-based applications can be developed that would not be possible over today's congested Internet.

At the same time, Lynn said, universities are faced with unprecedented demands for increased network capacity, reliability, and capability as students and faculty turn to the network as a basic tool for education and research.

Seven UC campuses--Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Riverside, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz--collaborated with Caltech, Stanford University, and USC in applying for a $3.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which will provide start-up funding for the project. The award was announced May 20 by the White House; an earlier grant under the same program was awarded to UCLA.

Examples for use

Typical applications that will be possible with the new network include:

Students and faculty sharing educational resources and high-speed access to the distributed digital library being developed at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and elsewhere.

Researchers controlling the operation of and collecting data from specialized instruments located at distant labs, such as the sophisticated electron microscope at UC Riverside or the Keck Telescope in Hawaii jointly managed by UC Santa Cruz, Caltech, NASA, and the University of Hawaii.

At the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI), a distributed interactive simulation and collaborative environment will allow scholars at different campuses to participate in 3D virtual experiments.

Students and others listening over the Internet to the Free Physics Radio lectures broadcast by UC Santa Barbara or electronically participating in seminars on international studies distributed by the UC Berkeley Multimedia Research Center.

Research scientists and students from across the CENIC partnering institutions making use of the supercomputer facilities at UC San Diego, soon to be greatly enhanced in conjunction with another major recent NSF award to UC. The network will transmit massive amounts of data among high- speed computers attached to the network for ultra high-speed distributed scientific computations ranging from simulating the global environment to modeling the crashworthiness of automobiles.

Veterinary scholars at UC Davis may share high-precision clinical images for teaching and research and reach out across the state to provide remote clinical animal care.

Neuroradiologists at UC San Francisco will be able to use the network for remote transmission of brain images for clinical diagnosis, research, and teaching. CAT scans of patients with advanced osteoporosis will be able to be transmitted almost instantly to UC Irvine for computer analysis and diagnosis.

Medical researchers and practitioners will be able to take advantage of vast stores of biomedical reference data available at the Advanced BioTelecommunications and BioInformatics Center at USC.

How CalREN-2 works

Campuses will connect directly to CalREN-2 at speeds of over 600 million bits per second or higher (a bit is a basic electronic unit of information). The highway itself can carry multiple streams of such traffic for an aggregate capacity of almost two and a half billion bits per second. This capacity is hundreds of times greater than CENIC members have available today.

The White House announcement points out that at 600 million bits per second, the entire 30-volume edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica could be transmitted in less that one second.

The CalREN-2 network will provide access to the national advanced network infrastructure via the National Science Foundation research network (the vBNS). The vBNS is also the foundation for Internet2, a national collaborative effort among the nation's leading universities to nurture a new generation of advanced education and research applications.

In addition, CalREN-2 will interconnect with other advanced research networks, such as the NASA Sciences Internet and the U.S. Department of Energy's ESNET. The three national research laboratories managed by UC are part of ESNET: the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

CalREN-2 also will interconnect with the existing commercial Internet. The technology to be tested in CalREN-2 eventually will be employed in the commercial Internet in order to improve services for everyone.

"CENIC and CalREN-2 are the result of strong cooperation among many of our California universities," Lynn said. "This network will continue California's tradition of leadership in the deployment and use of state-of-the-art information technology for education and research. We are looking forward to working with our California private-sector partners as we implement CalREN-2 and are grateful for the technological strength they bring to the undertaking."

CENIC private-sector partners in the proposal include California-based Pacific Bell, Cisco Systems, and FORE Systems. The grant will be administered by UC on behalf of all CENIC members.

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NOTES: Additional information about CENIC or the CalREN-2 network may be obtained from the CENIC Web site at http://www.aldea.com/cenic

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