AARNet trials 40Gbps for CSIRO

Australia's Academic Research Network (AARNet) has successfully linked up three CSIRO astronomy sites in New South Wales at speeds of 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) over 1300km as part of a trial.

Australia's Academic Research Network (AARNet) has successfully linked up three CSIRO astronomy sites in New South Wales at speeds of 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) over 1300km as part of a trial.

The three-day trial saw three CSIRO sites — Parkes Radio Telescope, the Narrabri Observatory and the CSIRO's headquarters in Marsfield — connected at 40Gbps over distance of approximately 1300 kilometres.

According to AARNet's chief operating officer, Don Robertson, no major upgrades to the network were required, other than the installation of two new 100Gbps transponders onto the network backbone.

"We've upgraded the two end points but otherwise the network was untouched. All the repeater optical amplifiers were left untouched. It actually confirmed that the current network can be upgraded and the new higher capacity wavelengths work perfectly parallel with the existing operations of the optical network," he told ZDNet Australia.

The tests were conducted primarily so AARNet could determine whether it could upgrade its existing Cisco ONS 15454 SONET Multiservice Provisioning Platform to provide 40Gbps services, and eventually 100Gbps services, according to Robertson. He also said the organisation opted to see what benefits the speeds could also offer the CSIRO.

"We wanted to put a bit of icing on the cake to see if the scientists could get some value out of this at the same time. We ran it at 40Gbps for three days continuously, meanwhile monitoring delay and jitter and packet loss, which performed flawlessly for three days," he said, and although AARNet used a traffic generator to send traffic over the network during the trial, it was now ready for the CSIRO to use.

"Those connections are still in place and it's my understanding that the CSIRO is starting to use this," he said.

In 2008, AARNet had suggested that it may skip the 40Gbps technology because 100Gbps technology was being pushed by vendors at the time; however, Robertson said AARNet had just used what was on offer today.

"The only reason we've got the 40Gbps [is] because that's the technology that's available this week. It's the same sort of technology as the 100Gbps, it's just a trial to make sure our network will work at the 100Gbps," he said.

In the next 12 to 18 months, Robertson said AARNet plans to extend its optical fibre network from Adelaide to Perth with the same technology. Robertson said this expansion, in conjunction with the network upgrades, will give Australia a good shot to win the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, as a number of the dishes for the SKA are planned to be installed in Western Australia. But the increased speeds will also help to meet AARNet customers' existing network demands.

"It does position us very well when the SKA starts to ramp up. We will have a terabit-type capacity available for that, and it puts us in a better place for our normal production network," he said. "Some of our customers today are pushing individual streams of data that are 5, 6 or 7 gigabits of data per second for one stream, and obviously you don't need much of those to fill up an existing 10-gigabit backbone."

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