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Asia-Pacific Area Network (APAN) 29th conference, Sydney, Australia
February 8-11, 2010

QCIF and UQVislab Demonstrate AARNet’s SAGE Bridge and 5Gbps throughput at APAN29

University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), University of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), GIST (Korea) and TACC (US) participated in a SAGE Visualcasting demo at APAN29. Photo: Bernard Pailthorpe, Queensland

The Asia-Pacific Area Network (APAN) 29th conference, APAN29, held February 8-11, 2010 in Sydney, Australia and hosted by AARNet, Australia’s Academic and Research Network, featured two major SAGE demonstrations that set new records for customer-generated data flows across the AARNet backbone.

The goal of these demos was to educate attendees on how network-based delivery of high-definition video and super-high-definition (4K) images and animations could promote global collaboration and advance scientific and engineering research in a variety of disciplines, such as telemedicine, environmental studies, and industrial design.

These demos, organized by AARNet and the University of Queensland’s QCIF (Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation) and UQVislab (Visualization Laboratory), were shown on a 9×3 portable tiled display wall (an “OptIPortable”) that was set up at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney, where APAN29 took place. In addition to the conference site in Sydney, demo participants included University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in South Korea, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at University of Texas, Austin, in the US.

In one demonstration, SAGE was used by the remote sites to simultaneously stream ultra-high-resolution images to the OptIPortable at APAN29. In the other demonstration, the SAGE Visualcasting capability was used to simultaneously share application content among multiple sites, enabling everyone at those sites to see the same content at the same time.

SAGE, open-source visualization middleware developed by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), enables users to interactively access, display and share a variety of data-intensive information, in a variety of resolutions and formats, from multiple sources, with the same ease that the Web affords for accessing lower-resolution objects today. To do this, SAGE takes advantage of high-speed networks that connect tiled display walls, or “OptIPortals.”

SAGE Visualcasting requires that a cluster, called a “SAGE Bridge,” be on the high-speed network in order to replicate and send individual streams to multiple locations. AARNet has a 10 Gigabit/second (Gbps) Research & Education backbone in Australia, and 20Gbps connectivity to the US. In addition, for APAN29, AARNet brought a 10Gbps circuit directly into the Intercontinental Hotel where the conference took place. Last year, University of Queensland brought a permanent 10Gbps connection from the campus edge directly into the UQVislab, where AARNet placed a three-node SAGE Bridge cluster for this demo. (This SAGE Bridge will subsequently be deployed on the AARNet backbone so other OptIPortal-connected sites in Australia can take advantage of the Visualcasting service.)

To demonstrate SAGE’s remote streaming capabilities, high-definition video streams were simultaneously sent from GIST, TACC, University of Melbourne and UQVislab to the OptIPortable at the conference site. These streams consisted of multiple compressed and uncompressed high-definition camera streams and super-high-definition (4K) digital cinema. These incoming streams had a sustained bandwidth of approximately 5Gbps.

To demonstrate that SAGE Visualcasting worked as designed, a video stream from the conference site was sent to the SAGE Bridge, which replicated it and sent it to the OptIPortable at the conference and to the OptIPortal at UQVislab. In addition, a video camera was pointed at the UQVislab display and the contents of the remote display was streamed back to APAN29 and displayed on the local OptIPortable alongside the local stream. Continued change of content and movement of windows around the workstation display were synchronously mirrored in both local and remote displays.

These demonstrations showed how researchers at different sites could collaborate effectively using SAGE and high-resolution tiled display walls. It built on the experience previously gained through UQVislab’s participation (also with assistance from AARNet) in Visualcasting related events at past Supercomputing conferences (SC08 and SC09).

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