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The primary objective of NREN is to infuse emerging network technologies into NASA mission-critical applications supported by the High-End Computing Columbia (HECC) project. As NASA's Mission Directorates integrate these emerging networking technologies into their activities, mission applications involving space exploration, the design of air and space vehicles, and Earth system modeling will be revolutionized, including faster and easier access to valuable mission data contained in NASA's vast storage facilities.

Wide Area Network
Connectivity to Columbia

NASA's science and engineering challenges are too large to be solved by investigators in a single location. Many of these challenges utilize modeling and simulation, and require investigators, computing resources, and data distributed across the globe. As a result, networking systems will be required to support geographically dispersed engineers and remotely located scientists with reliable access to high-end computing, simulation tools, and massive datasets. As modeling and simulation drive toward higher fidelities, larger datasets will be generated. Larger datasets, coupled with more efficient and larger-scale storage technologies, will create demands for increased network bandwidth, in support of the move- ment of these large datasets for computing or analysis. This in- creased network bandwidth will need to be delivered between NASA scientists, engineers, academic research partners, and commercial engineering partners.

The NREN Wide Area Network (WAN) is a nationwide high-performance network platform for the deployment of emerging networking technologies and for prototyping of applications and col- laborative processes that will be enabled by these technologies. The NREN WAN provides connectivity between selected NASA centers and peers with other high-performance network testbeds to enable NASA scientists, engineers, and researchers to reach their partners within other Federal agencies and academia. NREN was initially developed in 1996 and has been upgraded several times to reflect both the emergence of new networking technologies and to meet the evolving needs of NASA applications. NREN currently has 10 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) connectivity across the continental United States.

NASA's most powerful supercomputer, named "Columbia" to honor the downed Space Shuttle crew, is a 10,240-processor supercomputer con- sisting of 20 Altix nodes with 512 processors each, and currently ranked as one of the fastest in the world. Columbia is being utilized to help make breakthrough scientific discoveries and solve complex engineering problems in support of agency missions. NREN provides a 10 Gbps link to Columbia in support of NASA's and its partners' engineering and science objectives.
The Columbia Local Area Network (LAN) project will provide networking support for the HECC project at NASA Ames. However, this work fulfills the goals of both the LAN and WAN environments. As a result, the mission is to improve and maintain the NASA Advanced Supercomputing facility local network environment, advance the state-of-the-art in networking, and evaluate and implement appropriate networking technologies, as well as provide remote NASA high- performance computing customers with the most efficient and seamless means for accessing limited and shared resources at a low cost, while maintaining high bandwidth, high reliability, and low latency.

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Last Updated: September 10, 2006
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