VORTEX joins the info superhighway
Network can move information faster and cheaper than today’s Internet
|Gov. Mark R. Warner (standing) praises U.Va. President John T. Casteen III for his leadership at the VORTEX press conference on March 21.
By Matt Kelly
The information superhighway has added high-speed rail — National LambdaRail — and soon research institutions in Virginia, Maryland and Washington will have a ticket to ride.
In the Rotunda Dome Room on March 21, Gov. Mark R. Warner announced the creation of VORTEX, a broadband optical-fiber network that will connect Virginia’s universities to next-generation, high-performance networks like National LambdaRail, a high-speed communications network that moves data on light waves, or lambdas, over fiber-optic cable.
“VORTEX will provide Virginia’s academic researchers with new cyberinfrastructure tools, and will enable access to the fastest networks in the country,” Warner said. “These tools are essential if our schools are to compete for major science and engineering projects.”
Warner stressed the economic-development aspects and said VORTEX would make Virginia competitive with other parts of the country.
“Our universities will be intellectual capital creators,” Warner said. “They will drive the economy and how we live … in the 21st century.”
U.Va. President John T. Casteen III praised the two-year effort of the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP), a consortium founded by six Virginia universities (including U.Va. and Virginia Tech), in creating VORTEX, which he said “will enable researchers to tackle new questions.”
He cited the work of U.Va. environmental sciences professor Bruce P. Hayden, who will be using VORTEX to access data on ecology to gauge the impact of human activity on the landscape.
“We’re talking ‘big science’ in the scale of the projects,” Casteen said. “We can take our collective strength and solve problems for the common good.”
Through the VORTEX network, vast amounts of information can be moved much faster and at far less cost than today’s Internet technology — on the order of 700 times less expensive per unit of data than the cost of the same unit of information sent over traditional high-speed links. This capability will enhance Virginia’s strategic competitiveness and further the governor’s goal to increase academic research and development by $1 billion by 2010.
The node created by MATP on the National LambdaRail loop is located in McLean, Va., and Verizon communications is providing the fiber-optic cable necessary to connect the universities to this regional node. It will be operational in July.
“Scientific and medical research depends on data, and this [initiative] will give us access to data strewn around the world,” said Malathi Veeraraghavan, an associate professor at U.Va. with joint appointments in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, who will be the first to use VORTEX at U.Va.