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GTBW (Gigabit Testbed West)

Gigabit Testbed West


Communication networks with bandwidths of Gigabits per second (Gbps) are required wherever high-performing sources and drains of data have to be interconnected. In scientific computing areas with a considerable demand for high communication bandwidths include: coupling of supercomputers (meta-computing), high-resolution visualization, and distributed access to huge amounts of data.

A private ATM link between Jülich and St. Augustin with a bandwidth of initially 622 Mbps (and 2.4 Gbps since August 1998) is used for research projects in all of the above mentioned areas. Besides that, the network itself is subject to further investigations. In 1999 the ATM link was extended to connect several research institutions in Cologne and Bonn to the testbed.


The project was set up to demonstrate the usefulness of high-speed wide-area communication networks for scientific computing. A couple of selected applications which are known to need communication bandwidth of Gbps are investigated to achieve this aim.

The major objective is the coupling of architecturally different supercomputers - vector computers and massively parallel computers - to set up a heterogeneous meta-computer. Selected applications from geochemistry, medicine, climate and weather-modeling, high-resolution visualization, and industrial codes (CISPAR) that could benefit from such a configuration will be ported to the meta-computer. The experiences made here should strengthen the know-how needed for the planned coupling of the German supercomputer-centers.

The project sets up the first Gigabit wide area network in Germany, so the investigation of the network components is another important goal.

Partners / Grants

  • Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Zentralinstitut für Angewandte Mathematik
  • GMD - Forschungszentrum Informationstechnik GmbH, St. Augustin
  • Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum
  • Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung
  • Pallas GmbH, Brühl
  • Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln
  • Zentrum für Paralleles Rechnen (ZPR) der Universität zu Köln
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)
  • echtzeit GmbH
  • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universiät Bonn, Institut für Angewandte Mathematik

The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and DFN.

The grant period was August 1997 until January 2000.


  • GIGAnet - Configuration, Management and Performance Analysis of the Gigabit Testbed
  • Methods and Tools, Software Support
  • Solute Transport in Ground Water
  • Algorithmic Analysis of Magnetoenzephalography Data
  • Complex Visualization over a Gigabit-WAN
  • Multimedia applications in a Gigabit-WAN
  • Distributed computation of climate- and weather models
  • Porting Parallel and Distributed Applications from CEC CISPAR Project
  • Distributed Virtual TV-Production (Page in German)
  • Distributed Traffic Simulation and Visualization (3V)
  • Multiscale Molecular Dynamics
  • Distributed Computation of Coupled Lithospheric Processes

Status and Results

The project started in August 1997 with a 622 Mbps ATM-link between the FZ Jülich and the GMD in St. Augustin. Details about the status of the subprojects are given among their description.

On the 6th of August 1998 the link was successfully upgraded to 2.4 Gbps. Now, one FORE ASX-4000 ATM-switch on each side to connects the local ATM-networks of the reseach centers to the testbed. More than 99% of the max. possible net throughput was achieved by connecting several machines on each side of the link.

In March 1999 an OC-12 ATM connection between the GMD, the DLR, the University of Cologne, and the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne was established. This link is the basis for the new application projects "Distributed Virtual TV-Production" and "Distributed Traffic Simulation and Visualization".

The results of the project were presented at the Gigabit Testbed West Abschlußkolloquium in Jülich in January 2000. Transparencies (in German) of the presentations are available for download.

The final project report (in German) is also available for download.


Aufbruch ins Jahr 2000 - Start des Gigabit Testbed West
Eickermann, Thomas; Wunderling, Peter; Niederberger, Ralph; Völpel, Roland
In: DFN-Mitteilungen, Heft 45, November 1997, pp. 13 - 15