g i r f t y

Pacific Wave and CENIC

Cultural & Scientific, RENS & NRENS
Tags: supercomputingsdnpacific wavenational science foundationcloudcalren
REGIONS: California, Western Region, National, International


Building on the successful operation of public internet exchanges created in 1996 by the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CENIC and Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) deployed Pacific Wave, a geographically distributed peering facility in January 2004. The creation of Pacific Wave proved that a distributed Internet exchange could work, and it has paved the way for other exchanges to follow suit. With locations in Los Angeles, Sunnyvale, and Seattle, Pacific Wave formed the first distributed Internet Exchange aimed at improving cost-effective access for research and education networks across the Pacific. For more than 20 years, Pacific Wave has done more than just envision super high-performance and highly flexible interconnection, exchange, and peering among research and education (R&E) networks and connectors; it has set the standard for research and education exchanges everywhere.

Recognizing the diverse needs of different networks, connectors, and users, Pacific Wave has followed its vision of providing the flexibility and adaptability to leverage application and project opportunities that evolve at the breakneck speed of rapidly changing technologies. It is a vision of enabling network managers and users maximal choice and diversity of approaches to meet their needs, while at the same time providing the highest-performing interconnection, exchange, and peering available anywhere. Operated in collaboration with the University of Southern California and the University of Washington, Pacific Wave is the official USA National Science Foundation funded interconnection and peering facility and SDX exchange for Pacific Rim networks.

Thanks in part to two separate five-year International Research Network Connections (IRNC) awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Pacific Wave has expanded to include 30 network connections, supporting 29 countries as of 2015. Working with colleagues at the StarLight Exchange, Pacific Wave has extended and expanded its services to Chicago, while similar extensions through AARNet have connected the University of Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. At the close of the 10-year Translight/Pacific Wave project, Pacific Wave now supports 100-Gbps interconnections and the growing need for high-bandwidth connections to support scientists and researchers.

Every day, researchers in California use Pacific Wave to collaborate with international colleagues and collect data from remote sensors. Areas of work include climate research, astronomy, meteorology, volcanology,  and cultural preservation. The twin Keck Observatory telescopes on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, for example, allow astronomers around the world observe the universe with unprecedented power and precision. These telescopes — the world’s largest and most scientifically productive optical and infrared telescopes — use Pacific Wave to transmit their data around the world.

The power of Pacific Wave was recently demonstrated at this year's supercomputing conference, SC16. Each year, volunteers from academia, government, and industry work together to design and deliver SCinet, bringing to life a very high-capacity network that supports the revolutionary applications and experiments that are a hallmark of the SC conference. SCinet links the convention center to research and commercial networks around the world. In doing so, SCinet serves as the platform for exhibitors to demonstrate the advanced computing resources of their institutions by supporting a wide variety of bandwidth-driven applications, including supercomputing and cloud computing. More than one-third of traffic at SC16 touched either CENIC or Pacific Wave, and all of this traffic was transmitted error free.  

Pacific Wave continues to be one of CENIC’s major international initiatives, operated in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Gigapop. Undertaken as a part of an effort to improve service to CENIC members, Pacific Wave makes possible improved high-performance connectivity between CalREN and 29 Asia Pacific countries.

CENIC and PNWGP continue to improve Pacific Wave to better serve the community of users. Recent advancements include:

  • AutoGOLE, which creates a dedicated pathway using the automatic provisioning of service between AutoGOLE enabled exchanges worldwide.
  • Software Defined Networking Exchange (SDX), which provides SDN connection services between research and education networks, optimizing the flow of traffic.
  • The first 100G TransPacific Link from Seattle to Tokyo (in collaboration with TransPAC) and two points of presence in Tokyo.
  • perfSONAR, a widely deployed test and measurement infrastructure used by science networks and facilities around the world to monitor and ensure network performance, and used in the exchange for networks running at 10G and 100G.
  • Pacific Wave, a key part of the infrastructure for the Pacific Research Platform, a high-capacity, data-centric “freeway system” connecting institutions on the west coast.

Moving forward, Pacific Wave is extending its reach to allow more interconnection points and additional experimentation with new technologies. Pacific Wave will also continue to participate in the research of software-defined Internet exchanges, with the goal of providing researchers easier access to resources worldwide.