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TBT: When High Performance Networking and the Beatles Share the Same Texas Stage

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center arena with SCinet in November 2018 and the Beatles in September 1964.

Ground-breaking technology and revolutionary musicians distinguish the same Dallas venue

(Dallas, Texas) – The Beatles and High Performance Networking may seem like entirely unrelated topics. But they’re connected this week +5 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

In 1964 the Beatles broke musical ground when they performed here, and now just 2,824 weeks later another ground-breaking performance is underway.

“There is something satisfying about knowing that John, Paul, George, and Ringo all stood where we’re now orchestrating a network capable of 4 Tbps,” said Jason Zurawski of ESnet.

Article author: Rich Finlinson

This year Zurawski is directing an international team of more than 225 volunteer engineers, technicians and students. Instead of making revolutionary music, his crew is building SCinet – the world’s fastest temporary network connecting four continents to Dallas.

It’s all in preparation for next week’s International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, also known as SC18 with SC standing for supercomputing.

The SCinet team at SC includes 16 committees that range from plain English names like architecture, communications, contributor relations, experimental networks, help desk, logistics, power, network security and volunteer services to more jargon-heavy terms like dev-ops, edge, fiber, NRE and WAN transport.

It takes those committees a year to plan, a month to build, a week to operate and a single day to dismantle the network. All of it involves extensive collaboration, or as Lennon McCartney called it HELP! Starting in October, 14 equipment racks were initially staged in the convention center’s arena and then moved to its exhibit hall to deliver connectivity across 1-million square feet. Those racks weighed 4.25 tons.

When SC18 starts on November 11, more than 11,000 attendees will descend on Dallas from all over the world, but they won’t be isolated from global connections. SCinet will connect attendees, exhibitors, and network performance experiments to other high performance sites in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

The speed of that global network is expected to break last year’s record of 3.6 Tbps delivered for SC17in Denver, exceeding 4 Terabits of bandwidth. That’s fast enough to download the movies “HELP!” and “A Hard Day’s Night” along with the entire movie collection in iTunes in about seven minutes.

About SC18
SC18 is the premier international conference showcasing the many ways high performance computing, networking, storage, and analysis lead to advances in scientific discovery, research, education, and commerce. The annual event, created and sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), attracts thousands of HPC professionals and educators from around the globe to participate in its complete technical education program, workshops, tutorials, a world-class exhibit area, demonstrations, and the world’s fastest temporary computer network.

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