Cardiff University plans to use 40 Gigabit Ethernet technology to support grid computing and provide high-speed access for more than 25,000 students and researchers.
The five-year upgrade project will eventually carry voice, data and video network traffic across the university. As part of a £4.5m deal with integration specialist Pervasive Networks, Cardiff University began implementing 10 Gigabit Ethernet switching technology in August. Eight Bigiron 15000 Layer 3 backbone switches and 35 FastIron Layer 2/3 enterprise switches from Foundry Networks have been installed and migration is taking place during October.
University officials are seeking 99.999% availability from the new 10 Gigabit Ethernet network, compared to 96% on the previous legacy network, when it is fully implemented in August next year.
The university is also planning to install a 40 Gigabit-ready Bigiron MG8 switching and routing system, later this year.
The Welsh e-Science Centre, which is hosted by the university, will use the network upgrade to support its grid computing and the transfer of three-dimensional visualisation data to scientists.
Alex Hardisty, manager of the Welsh e-science Centre, said, "The step up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet allows effective visualisation, but 40 Gigabit will be like adding another 10 lanes to the M25.
"When we have a 40 Gigabit-capable network, the quality of video visualisation in Cardiff University will be world class."
The centre is the driving force behind much of Cardiff University's grid computing work, which involves the provision of computing on demand and sharing information from a variety of sources, such as biological, astrophysical, medical and molecular data.
The 10 Gigabit Ethernet network will also support students from Cardiff University and the University of Wales College of Medicine, which are currently in the process of merging.
According to Hardisty, "It is clear that the new network is going to allow us to do a lot more of what we are doing, and a lot faster."
About 25,000 students and researchers will gain high-speed access to the Superjanet network for education and research and a broad range of resources such as student registration.
Tom Wiersma, Cardiff University's network team leader, said, "The new network will enable videoconferencing on a far great-er scale and distance learning.
"It will also support a number of new virtual learning environments. For example, students will be able to interact in their rooms without having to go to lectures."
The network will provide connections for up to 20,000 users at the university's main campus and for 5,000 users at the University of Wales College of Medicine.
This was first published in September 2003