ECU part of effort to develop global, high-speed research network

Dr. Ciprian Popoviciu, assistant professor in the Department of Technology Systems, is leading East Carolina University’s effort to help develop an 8,000-mile optical network capable of delivering science data at 200 billion bits per second. (Contributed photo)

The creation of a research data superhighway across the Atlantic Ocean is the subject of a collaborative project that includes East Carolina University.

ECU and George Mason University have received a $463,256 grant from the National Science Foundation under the International Research and Education Network Connections program for BRIDGES or Binding Research Infrastructures for the Deployment of Global Experimental Science.

Dr. Ciprian Popoviciu, assistant professor in the Department of Technology Systems at ECU, said the goal is to deploy next-generation research infrastructure. The 8,000-mile optical network ring that includes Washington, D.C., New York, Amsterdam and Paris will be capable of delivering science data at a rate of 200 billion bits per second. By comparison, a typical high-definition video requires about 8 million bits per second.

Popoviciu said today’s large scale scientific experiments require faster speeds to transmit data.

“There is a big push to build high bandwidth infrastructures because the current ones cannot cope,” he said.

Popoviciu said BRIDGES would demonstrate a new vision for research and education cyberinfrastructures that will enable multiple research groups to collaborate across the ocean at the same time, with dedicated and composable resources. These capabilities will be implemented through Global Virtualization Services (GVS) software, an open source project to which the BRIDGES team will add both functionality and optimizations.

Popoviciu said 25 research projects on both sides of the Atlantic expressed interest in using this flexible, dynamic infrastructure to facilitate collaboration and enable research in next-generation networks that BRIDGES will provide. The projects cover a broad range of science domains, from particle physics to deep space networks.

Popoviciu speaks during Research Day on Feb. 24. (Photo by Ken Buday)

Leading research and education networks in the United States and Europe are supporting and participating in the three-year project. Popoviciu said a research associate and undergraduate student would also be involved in the project.

ECU’s role in the project centers on the design of the infrastructure and the development of envisioned features for the GVS software that will enable necessary functionality. Popoviciu, with industry experience in next-generation infrastructures and virtualization, was involved with the development of the GVS software and monitored its evolution as an expert for the European Commission that funded its creation.

ECU will also develop operational procedures and tools for managing the highly virtualized, highly configurable cyber infrastructure (CI) and will lay the foundation for the network operation center of the service.

“From a research perspective, this project represents a beachhead for the concept of generic virtualization that we believe will lead to new CI architectures that more easily and more completely support independent tenants,” Popoviciu said. “For ECU and our department, this project represents an opportunity to be part of leading CI research and to establish partnerships with leading U.S. and European universities.”

— By Ken Buday