Scientists achieve 186Gbps transfer rate across standard fiber optic line

Heralding a practical new way to transfer data at unprecedented speeds, scientists from Caltech and the University of Victoria have achieved a sustained data transfer rate between computers of 186Gbps, across a standard, commercially available fibre optic line. Real world applications for such speeds already exist, with many scientific projects across the world needing to share petabytes of data with other institutions.

The team of researchers consisted of scientists from various fields, including high-energy physics, computer science, and engineering. The 186Gbps transfer rate (98Gbps in one direction, 88Gbps in the other) was achieved over a 100Gbps bidirectional fibre optic line that stretched 217km from the SuperComputing 2011 (SC11) convention in Seattle, to the University of Victoria Computer Centre in Canada.

While speeds of more than a 100Tbps have been achieved in the past, they have either been inordinately expensive, or done over specialized networks. Also, the team from Caltech and the University of Victoria transferred data from computer to computer, quite different from just a demonstration of speed


The Caltech team at SC11 used 13 servers and 40Gbps LAN connections, while University of Victoria team used 10 servers and 10Gbps LAN connections to achieve the two computer-to-computer data transfer rate records, which were sustained for 11 hours each.

The first record, the 186Gbps data transfer rate (~23.25GBps) was achieved in a memory-to-memory transfer, while the second, 60Gbps (~7.5GBps) was achieved in a disk-to-disk transfer.

Refer to the Caltech SuperComputing 2011 site for more details about the equipment used in the record-breaking attempt, as well as the Caltech press release. Also, check out the rather excitedly narrated video below, demonstrating the team’s efforts: