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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 08:51 GMT
Net speed record smashed
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Scientists have set a new internet speed record by transferring 6.7 gigabytes of data across 10,978 kilometres (6,800 miles), from Sunnyvale in the US to Amsterdam in Holland, in less than one minute

Fibre optics cables
The future of computing is super fast
Using a quantity of data equivalent to two feature-length DVD-quality movies, the transfer was accomplished at an average speed of more than 923 megabits per second, or more than 3,500 times faster than a typical home broadband connection.

Les Cottrel, of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (Slac) Computer Services, said: "By exploring the edges of internet technologies' performance envelope, we will bring high-speed data transfer to practical everyday applications."

He added that potential uses included: "Doctors at multiple sites sharing and discussing a patient's cardio-angiographs to diagnose and plan treatment; or disaster recovery experts sharing information across the globe in near real-time to develop recovery and relief plans."

Next generation

The data were sent across the Internet2 network. This is operated by a consortium of 200 universities working in a worldwide effort to develop and deploy tomorrow's internet.

It is intended to connect and serve research and educational institutions at transmission speeds that allow near-instant transfer of hundreds of megabytes of data.

The motivation for the record was the need to transfer and analyse the vast amounts of data produced by particle physicists studying the fundamental building blocks of matter.

Raymond Orbach, director of the US Energy Department's Office of Science, said: "It underlines the tradition in particle physics of groundbreaking work in manipulation and transfer of enormous datasets."

Harvey Newman, professor of physics at Caltech, said: "The largest high-energy experiments are already dealing with data stores approaching the petabyte range and we expect this to increase by a factor of 1,000 over the next decade."

During its research, Slac has accumulated the largest known database in the world, which grows at one terabyte per day.

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