New computer link between ASU, TGen to transfer data faster

Posted By Mike Padgett

Nov. 12, 2008

A new partnership between Arizona State University and a Canadian company is designed to compress into one hour the 12 days required to transmit volumes of data between the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the university.

TGen in downtown Phoenix and ASU’s new Saguaro Supercomputer 2 in Tempe are about 10 miles apart. Using conventional cables, it can take TGen workers up to 12 days to transmit 7 terabytes of genetic data to the ASU computer.

But through a partnership between ASU and Obsidian Strategics in Edmonton, Alberta, the data – equal to about 3.5 million iPod songs – soon could be transmitted in as little as one hour.

The solution, according to a TGen announcement released today, is using what’s called “dark fiber,” the unused fiber optic cables installed years ago nationwide to help future growth and development.

One experimental run from DNA sequencers can generate 7 terabytes, of 7,000 gigabytes, of genetic information. Existing TGen-ASU connections can move about 30 gigabytes an hour, which requires more than a week to transfer scientific experimental data.

The Obsidian Strategics technology is designed to transmit 8,000 gigabytes per hour, or 8 terabytes, between TGen and ASU’s supercomputer.

“With the ever-increasing amount of data being generated by both proteomics and next-generation sequencing, it is critical to have state-of-the-art communications networks between locations where data is generated, and where it is analyzed,” says James Lowey, director of TGen’s High-Performance Biocomputing.

ASU is searching for a partner to provide the fiber optic cable, says Dan Stanzione, director of the High Performance Computing Initiative at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

Reducing transmission time is becoming more critical. TGen’s next generation sequencers will produce as much as 30 terabytes of data, which is equal to 15 million iPod songs, according to TGen estimates.

Obsidian Strategics is a leading developer of InfiniBand range extension, routing and encryption technology. ASU and Obsidian will join with others in a venture supported by the Canadian Consulate-Phoenix to advance the capabilities of the optical network, linking higher education facilities in Arizona and in other states, according to the announcement.




Nov 12th, 2008

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