ESnet Launches Next-Generation Network to Enhance Collaborative Science

ESnet6 provides over 46 Terabits per second of bandwidth and intelligent network services to support unique data-intensive needs of scientific research

October 11, 2022


Today, the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) formally unveiled ESnet6, the newest generation of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) high-performance network dedicated to science. The hybrid in-person and virtual event was held at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and live-streamed for remote viewers.

“ESnet6 represents a transformational change in the way networks are built for research, with improved capacity, resiliency, and flexibility,” said ESnet Executive Director Inder Monga. “Together, these new capabilities make it faster, easier, and more efficient for scientists around the world to conduct and collaborate on ground-breaking research.”

ESnet6 map 1720x800 logo

For more than 35 years, ESnet – headquartered at Berkeley Lab – has served as the “data circulatory system” for the DOE, connecting all of its national laboratories, tens of thousands of DOE-funded researchers, and DOE’s premier scientific instruments and supercomputing centers. This interconnected system enables data to move quickly between sites and collaborators, accelerating time-to-discovery.

ESnet6 takes the network’s capabilities to the next level. With more than 46 Terabits per second of bandwidth, ESnet6 features a significant increase in bandwidth over prior generations of the network. With this boost in capacity, scientists can more quickly process, analyze, visualize, share, and store the mountains of research data produced by experiments, modeling, and simulations.

The new network does more than just increase capacity. ESnet engineers have developed smart, programmable, and automated services that are uniquely built to support the multi-petabyte dataflows typical of science research today and are future-proofed to manage the emerging exabyte data era. In 2021, ESnet carried over 1.1 exabytes of science data. Traffic on ESnet increases by a factor of ten every four years.

“As scientific instruments grow in complexity and supercomputers simulate scientific phenomena at higher resolutions, the science community is facing a growing challenge: data volumes that are increasing exponentially, coupled with the need to move, share, and process this data globally and faster than ever before,” said Barbara Helland, associate director of the DOE Office of Science's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program. “With ESnet6, DOE researchers are equipped with the most sophisticated technology to help tackle the grand challenges we face today in areas like climate science, clean energy, semiconductor production, microelectronics, the discovery of quantum information science, and more.”

“ESnet6 provides the foundation for the future of the DOE mission science as we enter an age where discoveries will rely on the integration of scientific experimental facilities, supercomputers, and global science teams operating together as if they are colocated: one instrument in one location,” Monga said. “ESnet6 interconnects all of these resources to create a holistic science discovery system.”

High-capacity, high-performance networking

This integration of experimental, networking, and computational facilities gives scientists the ability to take a giant leap forward in gaining insight from massive datasets produced by experiments that use large-scale instruments such as genome sequencers, telescope observatories, X-ray light sources, and particle accelerators, among many others. Researchers are also able to move simulation data to collaborators around the world. To this end, ESnet6 is built to support the DOE’s multi-billion dollars of investments in scientific research that leads to breakthroughs that impact our everyday lives.

ESnet6's new capabilities and services include

    • A dedicated 15,000 miles of fiber optic cable footprint,
    • Network backbone links ranging from 400 Gigabit per second to 1 Terabit per second for record-time data transfers,
    • Customizable network services via a new automation platform,
    • High-precision telemetry to improve network performance,
    • Improved overall network security,
    • A future programmable API platform for scientists to directly request custom network services.

ESnet6 was officially unveiled at a special event attended by DOE and Berkeley Lab leadership, as well as local, state, and federal government representatives, including U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of the DOE’s Office of Science. The event also featured keynote talks from Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google and ESnet Policy Board member; and Ian Foster, distinguished fellow at Argonne National Laboratory and professor of computer science at the University of Chicago. Each provided insights into the impact ESnet6 is having on the scientific community and the global Internet.

“The Internet is about information and data flow," said Cerf. “With the launch of ESnet6, we are empowering the scientific community with unprecedented new capabilities to help advance the search for life-saving and planet-saving discoveries.”

Additional speakers included Berkeley lab scientists Ann Almgren, senior scientist and the Applied Mathematics Department head, and David McCallen, senior scientist in the Energy Geosciences Division and professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. These researchers shared background on how ESnet impacts several of their exascale computing research projects. Their presentations focused on research in wind energy and earthquake simulations.

The event also included a live demonstration of ESnet6’s new automation platform rapidly configured ESnet6 network paths to support the transfer of large science datasets across the country in under two minutes. In addition, a live, multi-terabyte transfer of earthquake simulation data was also performed between the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Center to the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in minutes.

ESnet6 could not have been built without critical industry partnerships. Close collaborations with Lumen Technologies, Ciena, Infinera, Nokia, and AMD provided ESnet with leading-edge equipment and expertise needed to help bring the new network into service. These partners provided key building blocks, including ESnet’s nationwide fiber optic cable footprint, optical switching and routing platforms, and an extreme-scale packet monitoring system. Representatives from each vendor presented at the unveiling event, where they shared details about their contributions to, and support of, ESnet6.

“The successful development of ESnet6 from the ground up is also the result of the commitment and dedication of the ESnet staff, who each brought diverse talents to the table,” Monga emphasized. “ESnet exemplifies the ‘team science’ value of Berkeley Lab. Our partnerships with all the DOE national labs, vendors, global research and education networks, and academia were essential to the design and build of this important infrastructure for the Department of Energy while surmounting the challenges of the pandemic and resulting supply chain delays.”