A National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $13.5 million announced September 25 will provide five years' funding to solve the problem of sharing ultra-large data sets and processor-intensive visualization applications among long-distance collaborators. "OptIPuter" — a portmanteau for "Optical networking, internet protocol, and computer storage and processing" — is a project already in development, and itself a collaboration among institutions led by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). Their goal is to ease exchanging and managing the enormous amounts of data becoming common in an increasing number of scientific fields.

"The chunks of data are so big, that trying to get them across the shared Internet is just not possible," explained Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Cal-(IT)²), and professor of computer science and engineering at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. According to Smarr, even the...

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