Argonne Installs Advanced Network Switching Device

In what was called "a major coup for Argonne," one of the world's most advanced network switching devices will soon be routing the billions of bits of computer data produced by Argonne each second. The seven-foot-high device, manufactured by Nortel, is called the Magellan Concorde Asynchronous Transfer Mode Switch. All networked data transmission at Argonne, from electronic-mail to planned real-time, full-motion video, will pass through the switch. The switch reads the "address" of the outbound data and sends it to its destination.

Argonne received the switch for a fraction of its "retail" cost, according to Associate Director of the Electronics and Communication Technologies (ECT) Division, Tim Kuhfuss. Both sides benefited from the arrangement: Nortel receives a demanding field test of the device and the cachet of having one of its devices in use at a major national laboratory. Argonne gets the second such switch ever made for a substantial discount.

The switch is an integral part of Argonne's plan to deal with its steady increase in network communications, which has been doubling every two years. An even bigger jump in network traffic is expected in 1996.

"Between Mathematics and Computer Science, which is planning to participate in a major demonstration of the `next generation of the Internet' next year, and the Advanced Photon Source, we're expecting traffic to double in just the next year," Kuhfuss said. "This switch was our chance to keep ahead of the demand."

Abstracted, with permission, from the September 5, 1995, issue of Argonne Week.

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