Think your broadband connection is fast?

February 28, 2003

The ability to transmit 6.7 gigabytes of data -- the equivalent of more than 400 high-resolution (16 MB) chest studies -- across 7000 miles in less than a minute once existed only in medical fiction. Welcome to the future. An international relay team

The ability to transmit 6.7 gigabytes of data - the equivalent of more than 400 high-resolution (16 MB) chest studies - across 7000 miles in less than a minute once existed only in medical fiction.

Welcome to the future.

An international relay team that included the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) recently shot a stream of uncompressed data at 923 Mb per second for 58 seconds from Sunnyvale, CA, to Amsterdam. The baud rate was more than 3500 times faster than a typical Internet broadband connection.

The massive data dump was awarded a certified data-transfer speed record by the Internet2 consortium, an organization of universities working in partnership worldwide with industry and government to develop and deploy the next-generation Internet.

The exercise was more than a gee-whiz exhibition for particle physicists. Experts believe new high-speed Internet2 technologies will augment practical applications such as digital libraries, virtual laboratories, and distance learning.

Internet2 initiatives call for the integration of higher speed backbone communication networks as a means to replace the current inadequate Internet for many applications, including medical imaging.

Advanced medical imaging is a special category requiring more bandwidth than current storage and transmission technologies can conveniently deliver. A full set of both electronic and photographic images in the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human data sets requires the capacity of more than 100 CD-ROMs.

Benefits also trickle down to clinical and hospital IT circles. With Internet2, near-instantaneous disaster recovery schemes will be available for IT managers. Physicians can retrieve any prior series of imaging studies from archive farms in a split second. More important to patient care, advanced networks will enable real-time consultation and image transfer between physicians and radiology subspecialists.

One application of Internet2 could take cross-sectional CT scans, which might include as many as 3000 images, and transfer them to another location, enabling radiologists at central locations to read studies in real-time from multiple remote locations. Time to definitive intervention could thus be shortened.

Aside from SLAC, the research team on the record-setting international transmission consisted of representatives from Caltech, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics and High Energy Physics in Amsterdam, and the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

To achieve the record, the team used advanced networking equipment and capabilities of TeraGrid, StarLight, SURFnet, NetherLight, Cisco, and Level 3 Communications.