May 24th, 2019
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08/31/2007 - Gigapop Sparks Regional Research

The Inland Northwest connection to the Pacific Northwest Gigabit Point-of-Presence (PNWGP) officially launched at a ceremony on August 7, 2007. The main POP link with Seattle is in the US Bank Building with other POPs in the Wells Fargo Building, the Riverpoint network operation center (NOC) on the Riverpoint Campus, and at LLIX in Liberty Lake. The primary goal of the PNWGP is to enable research, development, and education by providing high-speed, reliable connections to national and international research and education networks, next-generation test-bed networks, and the commodity Internet. Researchers at several Inland Northwest Universities with projects that are funded and operating have applications for which the Gigapop will be very, very helpful.

Washington State University (WSU) computer science professors Dave Bakken and Carl Hauser are looking forward to utilizing the Gigapop for their GridStat project. GridStat, an eight-year-old project, is a next-generation communications framework for the electric power grid’s operational data. Bakken and Hauser are world leaders in this area. Prof Bakken explains: “The Gigapop will allow us to distribute the GridStat infrastructure much further, and experiment with and demonstrate the flexibility, robustness, and cyber-security of GridStat. It is crucial to have such a real deployment in order to demonstrate to industry that there are much better ways to disseminate communication data than the 60s-based SCADA currently being used. The Gigapop will allow us to do this in a much more thorough and convincing manner and will allow us to conduct much more widely-distributed experiments that could not possibly be done over the best-effort Internet. The Gigapop also allows us to have many more redundant links than we otherwise could have, and thus we can demonstrate much more robustness and self-healing than we could otherwise hope to. We hope to have real GridStat data running over the Gigapop at the end of this year, or at the latest, in early 2008."

At the University of Idaho, Dr Jim Alves-Foss, professor of computer science and director of the Center for Secure and Dependable Systems (CSDS), is planning to utilize a high performance immersive video remote teaching system to begin sharing classes and seminars with Eastern Washington University (EWU) CS in Cheney. The operation will use the new Gigapop and its associated fiber optic links as its underlying communications fabric. The first planned class is slated for 2008, and will involve principles of computer security.

At EWU, chemistry professor Robin McRae will send complex chemical data sets to the supercomputer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for calculations using advanced reaction models. These files can be huge and cumbersome with current connection speeds, but with the Gigapop the distant supercomputer will seem like an extension of the user’s native hard drive. McRae’s computations will take seconds instead of hours.

Using the Gigapop, EWU’s distributed network music project will take a giant leap forward. Conceived by Spokane-area music entrepreneur Craig Volosing, the distributed music project has been underway at EWU for two years with music professor Jonathan Middleton serving as the music scientist and Professor Steve Simmons serving as computer scientist. The project’s mission is to prove that musical ensembles can play together in real-time although at a distance. Middleton, on sabbatical at Stanford University, and Simmons plan to develop live, interactive music sessions between EWU and Stanford in the upcoming academic year. The high performance of the Gigapop connection is needed to overcome computer network delay -- which would otherwise sabotage the quality of the musical interaction between the groups of musicians at each end of the connection.

Several other exciting projects are in the planning stages. Each project involves distance collaboration needing massive connection speeds, outstanding quality of service (QoS), or both.

Billie Moreland
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