Pacific Research Platform: UC San Diego, UC Berkeley lead creation of West Coast big data freeway system

Research Scientists to Use Network Much Faster Than Internet

PRP diagram

For the last three years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a series of competitive grants to over 100 U.S. universities to aggressively upgrade their campus network capacity for greatly enhanced access to science data. NSF is now building on that distributed investment by funding a $5 million, five-year award to UC San Diego and UC Berkeley to establish a Pacific Research Platform (PRP), a science-driven high-capacity data-centric “freeway system” on a large regional-scale. Within a few years, the PRP will give participating universities and other research institutions the ability to move data 1,000 times faster compared to speeds on today’s inter-campus shared Internet.

PRP’s data-sharing architecture, with connections of 10-100 gigabits per second, will enable region-wide virtual co-location of data with computing resources and enhanced security options. PRP links most of the research universities on the West Coast (the 10 campuses of the University of California, San Diego State University, Caltech, USC, Stanford, University of Washington) via the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC)/Pacific Wave’s 100G infrastructure. PRP also extends to the University of Hawaii System, Montana State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern, and University of Amsterdam. Other research institutions in the PRP include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and four national supercomputer centers. In addition, PRP will interconnect with the experimental research testbed Chameleon NSFCloud and the Chicago StarLight/MREN community.

“Research in data-intensive fields is increasingly multi-investigator and multi-institutional, depending on ever more rapid access to ultra-large heterogeneous and widely distributed datasets. The Pacific Research Platform will make it possible for PRP researchers to transfer large datasets to where they work from their collaborators’ labs or from remote data centers,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

Fifteen multi-campus teams developing data-intensive applications will act as drivers of the PRP, and will provide feedback over the five years to the technical design staff. These application areas include accelerator particle physics; astronomical telescope survey data; gravitational wave detector data analysis; galaxy formation and evolution; cancer genomics, human and microbiome ‘omics integration, biomolecular structure modeling; natural disaster, climate, CO2 sequestration simulations; as well as scalable visualization, virtual reality, and ultra-resolution video. The PRP will be extensible across other data-rich research domains and to other national and international networks, potentially leading to a national and eventually global cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research.

“To accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, researchers must get the data they need, where they need it, and when they need it,” said UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Larry Smarr, principal investigator of the PRP and director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “This requires a high-performance data freeway system in which we use optical lightpaths to connect data generators and users of that data.”

Pacific Research Platform leadership team: (L-R) Larry Smarr, Camille Crittenden, Philip Papadopoulos, Thomas DeFanti, and Frank Würthwein

The leadership team includes faculty from two of the multi-campus Governor Gray Davis Institutes of Science and Innovation created by the State of California in 2000: Calit2, and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), led by UC Berkeley. “The Pacific Research Platform is an ideal vehicle for collaboration between CITRIS and Calit2 given the growing importance of universities working together for the benefit of society,” said CITRIS Deputy Director Camille Crittenden, co-PI on the PRP award. “The project also received strong support from members of the UC Information Technology Leadership Council, which includes chief information officers from the 10 UC campuses, five medical schools, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Office of the President.” Crittenden will manage the science engagement team and the enabling relationships with CIOs on participating campuses and labs.

Leadership Team:

Larry Smarr, Director, Calit2
Camille Crittenden, Deputy Director, CITRIS
Philip Papadopoulos, Program Director, UC Computing Systems,
San Diego Supercomputer Center, UCSD
Thomas DeFanti, Research Scientist, Calit2
Frank Würthwein, Physicist, UC San Diego; Program Director, SDSC

Related Links

Full Press Release:

ESnet’s Science DMZ Breaks Down Barriers, Speeds up Science” (Energy Sciences Network, 09/17/2015)

UC Berkeley helps lead accelerated data sharing between top West Coast research institutions” (The Daily Californian, 08/09/2015)

Australia forges US partnership to accelerate scientific discovery and innovation” (AARNet, 08/05/2015)

Research Scientists to Use Network Much Faster Than Internet” (John Markoff, New York Times, 07/31/2015)