A Powerful Distributed Cyberinfrastructure to Support
Data-Intensive Scientific Research and Collaboration

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The OptIPuter's mission is to enable collaborating scientists to interactively explore massive amounts of previously uncorrelated data by developing a radical new architecture for a number of this decade's e-Science shared information technology facilities. Observing that the exponential growth rates in bandwidth and storage are now much higher than Moore's Law, this research exploits a new world in which the central architectural element is optical networking, not computers. This transition is caused by the use of parallelism, as in supercomputing a decade ago. However, this time the parallelism is in multiple wavelengths of light, or lambdas, on single optical fibers, creating "supernetworks."

The OptIPuter project aims at the re-optimization of the entire Grid stack of software abstractions, learning how to "waste" bandwidth and storage in order to conserve "scarce" computing in this new world of inverted values. Essentially, the OptIPuter is a "virtual" parallel computer in which the individual "processors" are widely distributed clusters; the "memory" is in the form of large distributed data repositories; "peripherals" are very-large scientific instruments, visualization displays and/or sensor arrays; and the "motherboard" uses standard IP delivered over multiple dedicated lambdas. The southern California-based and Chicago-based research teams are prototyping the OptIPuter initially on campus, metropolitan and state-wide optical fiber networks.

Beyond servicing the scientific and engineering research communities, the OptIPuter can be an enabling technology for broader societal needs, including emergency response, homeland security, health services, and science education.