BCNET, CANARIE and the University of Victoria Demo the Future of Canadian Digital Infrastructure

For immediate release
November 16, 2011

Pushing the limits of technology and science and reducing the time to discovery

VANCOUVER - BCNET, British Columbia's advanced network and shared IT services organization for higher education, CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network and the University of Victoria today demonstrated the capability to push the upper limits of modern networks by transmitting one petabyte of particle physics data in 24 hours at sustained speeds of 95 gigabits per second, over a single optical channel. Spanning nearly 212 kilometers from the University of Victoria Computing Centre located in Victoria, British Columbia, to the Washington State Convention Centre in Seattle, Washington, the long-range, production-grade 100G network transferred the equivalent of 13 years of HDTV video.

The demonstration is featured at SC11, the international Super Computing conference, to highlight the capability of high-speed, high-capacity advanced networks and their ability to enable greater productivity for research and faster outcomes for scientific discovery. Caltech (California Institute of Technology) partnered with BCNET, CANARIE and the University of Victoria to promote the demonstration at their SC11 exhibit.

"The demonstration provides a preview into the future of digital infrastructure in British Columbia, and our flexibility to build one of the world’s fastest and most advanced networks to further accelerate our competitiveness in science and technology,’’ comments Michael Hrybyk, BCNET president and CEO, “BCNET’s road-map to 100Gbps is currently underway in order to satisfy the burgeoning demand for applications and services that rely on our network and the collaborative needs of our research and higher education members."

“Demand for bandwidth continues to grow as scientists embark on research that is increasingly data intensive and collaborative,“ says Jim Roche, CANARIE’s president and CEO, “CANARIE has documented a 284 per cent increase in the amount of data transmitted on our network since 2007, and this trend is expected to accelerate as scientists share data from scientific facilities like the Large Hadron Collider in CERN to participating global research sites like the University of Victoria. CANARIE’s digital infrastructure enables Canadian participation in this kind of data-intensive science, and leads to enhanced research productivity and accelerated discoveries."

A team of advanced network engineers along with Institute of Particle Physics Research Scientist and University of Victoria Adjunct Professor, Randall Sobie, worked together with a number of long-standing, industry partners to construct the 100-gigabit per second demonstration network for the duration of the SC11 Conference.

Ciena® Corporation has provided the 100G interface for the BCNET and CANARIE network that were easily installed without changing any network infrastructure. The pioneer in coherent optical technology, Ciena is also the market leader in this area, with more than 9,000 coherent 40G/100G line interfaces shipped to approximately 100 customers across the globe. Ciena’s powerful 6500 Packet-Optical Platform equipped with WaveLogic™ coherent optical processors provide high-performance, high network capacity that helps to reduce overall operational expenses through simple service turn-up and automated, real-time network optimization.

“High-capacity, high-performance networks play a critical role in global research and education efforts, enabling organizations to collaborate on research, development and leading-edge technology discoveries,” said Rod Wilson, senior director for external research at Ciena, “Ciena's coherent optical solutions provide the foundation for many of these networks and we have a long history working with institutions worldwide to help transform how research and development is conducted. We are proud to partner with BCNET, CANARIE, the University of Victoria and Caltech in this experiment which is a prime example of how we can push the limitations of today’s 100G network capabilities to improve the way researchers interact and conduct complex research projects."

Brocade contributed the NetIron MLXe high-performance Ethernet routers equipped with 100 GbE blades. Delivering four times the 100 GbE wire-speed density and nine times the system capacity of many alternative routers, the Brocade MLXe 15.36 Terabits per second (Tbps) fabric helps provide greater simplicity with significantly less infrastructure and operational overhead. The 100 GbE blades enable organizations to deploy the industry’s first Terabit-per-second trunk, which utilizes multiple ports in a single logical link for greater bandwidth and reduced management. This technology supports the streaming of a half-million high-definition video streams over a single managed connection – serving the equivalent of all San Jose, Calif. households.

DELL has provided R710 servers used to drive the network from Victoria. Xyratex provided a Lustre storage appliance used to stage data to the demonstration cluster in Victoria.

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For more information, please contact:

Tamara Klein
Communications Manager
(604) 505-8455

Wynn Anne Sibbald
Communications Manager
(613) 943-5432


BCNET is a not-for-profit, shared IT services organization that collaborates with its higher education members to explore and evaluate leading-edge information technology services to accelerate research, collaboration, learning and innovation. BCNET's high-capacity, advanced fibre optic network infrastructure provides a common and powerful platform to deliver services to support research and the strategic objectives of higher education institutions.

Owned, governed and funded primarily by its members and government, BCNET is guided by clear, member-defined principles that provide a framework for the types of projects or services it will undertake. Proposed services share the common goal of reducing members' costs, minimizing technology duplication and improving efficiencies, while meeting the collective mandate of its members.

Sixty-eight research and higher education institutions connect to BCNET, including federal and provincial research labs, federal cultural institutes, provincial health centres, universities and research institutions; another 72 colleges and schools connect to BCNET through the Provincial Learning Network. Find us on twitter: BCNET_Network


CANARIE Inc. is Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network. Established in 1993, CANARIE manages an ultra high-speed network that supports leading-edge research and big science across Canada and around the world. One million researchers, scientists and students at over 1,100 Canadian institutions, including universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals, and government laboratories have access to the CANARIE Network. Together with 12 provincial and territorial advanced network partners, CANARIE enables researchers to share and analyze massive amounts of data, like climate models, satellite images, and DNA sequences that can lead to groundbreaking scientific discoveries. CANARIE is a non-profit corporation supported by membership fees, with the major investment in its programs and activities provided by the Government of Canada.

CANARIE keeps Canada at the forefront of digital research and innovation, fundamental to a vibrant digital economy. For additional information, please visit:

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By the Numbers

The demo transferred over one petabyte of data.

1 petabyte = 1,048,576 Gigabytes

A typical movie download is about 2 Gigabytes, so 1 petabyte = 524,288 movies

At 100 gigabits per second, it is the equivalent of downloading six whole movies every second, or half a million movies in a 24-hour period.

1 petabyte equals the space of 10,000 laptops, each with a 100 GB hard drive, on which you could store approximately one of the following:

  • 13.3 years of HD-TV video
  • 10 million yards of books on a shelf
  • 20,000,000 four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text
  • 250 million mp3 songs

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