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Surfing the World Wide Waves (WWW)

High speed data transfer

Over the past few days CERN have been discussing high speed data transfer via fibre optic links. This demonstration is particularly interesting because of the speed at which these transfers are being made.

The technology behind these trials is not yet available to the public and there are only a limited amount of servers able to send files at such high speeds. They have succesfully sent files at speeds of up to 5.6 gigabits per second. With the ADSL Modem you are receiving data at around 128Kb/s. In Effect the CERN used the Translantic grid network to send data at the rate of one dvd per second.

The challenge itself is quite impressive considering the technology behind it. Firstly you need two powerful machines, one set up to receive the data and the other to transmit. The point about transferring such huge amounts of data is that you need to store all this information in the Random access memory before you are able to send it down the tube. Quite large amounts of ram are required to store this data before sending therefore you'd need at least 8Gbytes of ram before you're able to send the data down the line to be received. To give you an idea of the amount of data imagine that your connection is a water pistol and the CERN's usage is a firehose. With this comparison you get an idea of the huge quantity of data travelling down the line at just one moment.

Limitations with such high amounts of data are actually found within the machines themselves. The amount of processing power and the amount of RAM required is more than can be found in conventional equipment and at the moment one of the larger problems is an element of too much capacity in terms of badnwidth compared to what can be used either over the fibre or by the various ISP's who would need to upgrade their own system.

 

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Articles by Richard Azia unless otherwise indicated.


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