At its annual meeting this week, Internet2 and several partners will demo hi-def videoconferencing over Dynamic Circuit Networks, or DCN. The 1080i video stream will be uncompressed and will clock in at around 1.2Gbps. They will be connecting students in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in France with the conference floor in New Orleans.
Awesome hi-def video aside, the most interesting part of this to me is the DCN they will be running this across. Dynamic Circuit Networks allow the user to self provision a pathway temporarily for large data transfers, such as vast data dumps from the LHC. Rather than break up the data into packets and send them out individually to be repackaged on the other end, DCN keeps them all in the same flow through the same pipes in a dedicated circuit. That’s right, it’s like a PSTN phone call over a circuit switched network but on fiber coexisting with IP traffic and a million times larger.
Wait a minute you say, I thought that was the thing we were trying to get away from. Isn’t everything going IP? Don’t we *want* to make everything into packets? No, no more than we wanted everything to be circuit based. Both the circuit based and packet based methods are simply tools, which is best depends on the job at hand. Sometimes one needs better quality of service, so much better that the best design is to ‘step out of the flow’. The ability to do either coexisting on the same infrastructure for such huge data flows is an important development. The work being done on DCN by Internet2 and others will eventually trickle down to the rest of the internet, possibly revolutionizing the Internet as currently designed. Well, that’s why they called it Internet2 I guess.
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