Computer Science, Built for Speed

Posted: November 30, 1999 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Gabrielle DeFord

The National Science Foundation recently awarded $300,000 to the Computer Science Department. Over the next three years, the funds will be used to create and maintain an ultra-fast networking system for the department. The system will have two disk storage arrays, and its components will be distributed among three computer science labs.

“The fastest network that a university might use right now is the DARPA supernet, which operates at 2.5 gigabits per second,” says Mark Pullen, Computer Science, principal investigator for the grant. “The fastest network on campus is 100 megabits per second. The network we will be installing, MyriNet, operates at 1.2 gigabits per second. This means the Computer Science Department will have the ability to transfer data internally 10 times faster than the rest of the university combined.”

MyriNet permits all connected machines to communicate point-to-point simultaneously. In the more common Ethernet system the department is using now, the machines must take turns using the network, according to Pullen. This means MyriNet has capacity to transfer data more rapidly. Within the School of Information Technology and Engineering, this ability will be harnessed for graphics and visualization to support ongoing research. The entire Computer Science Department and its industry research partners will have access to the new system, due to be operational by the first of the year.

MyriNet is produced by a company headed by Chuck Scites. Pullen was the program manager at DARPA on work that helped produce it.

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