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Big Data Superhighway

The University of California, San Diego, is building a new high-speed network intended to enable the rapid movement of "big data" across campus in the areas of genomic sequencing, climate science, electron microscopy, oceanography, and physics.

The project, supported by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and called Prism@UCSD, will include fiber paths of 10 gigabit/s, 40 gigabit/s, 80 gigabit/s, and 120 gigabit/s between various facilities on the UCSD campus.

“We’ve identified a variety of big data users on this campus who need 10 gigabit/s and faster bandwidth to deal with the avalanche of data coming from scientific instruments such as sequencers, microscopes, and computing clusters,” says Philip Papadopoulos, principal investigator on the Prism@UCSD project.

Papadopoulos says Prism will be 100 times the bandwidth of the UCSD's main campus network.

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, says that if Prism is a success at UCSD, the project will look for ways to expand access to the network.

“UC San Diego has a symbiotic relationship with nearby biotech firms and research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa, institutions such as Salk, The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford Stem Cell Consortium, and Sanford-Burnham,” he says. “We are entering the era of integrated, personalized ‘omics,’ and for San Diego to be a leader, we need to share biomedical data across the Mesa, regardless of which lab generates it.”