George Washington University to trial 40-Gbps genomics data transfers with NIH

While most of the U.S. looks longingly at Google ($GOOG) Fiber's 1-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) transfer rate, George Washington University (GWU) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week took things to the next level. The organizations are using their new 100-Gbps links to the Internet2 Network to trial 40-Gbps transfers of genomics data.

Scientists running genomic analyses at GWU will test the infrastructure in a pilot project that hopes to transfer data from the NIH's National Library of Medicine at 40 Gbps. The project is made possible by GWU and NIH's 100-Gbps connections to the network run by Internet2, a not-for-profit collective of U.S. universities, businesses and government agencies. Hooking up to the network should reduce the time spent transferring data from one site to another.

The NIH views network bottlenecks as a major obstacle to genomics research. When BGI used a 10-Gbps connection to move genomics information in 2012, it shattered the China-U.S. data transfer record. Yet just 18 months later, the NIH was already worrying that it will take weeks to download the Cancer Genome Atlas using a 10-Gbps connection. Internet2's 100-Gbps network will go some way to alleviating these worries, but connection speeds will have to keep pace with the growth of genomics databases.

Illumina's ($ILMN) HiSeq X Ten--the system it claims enables the $1,000 genome--will generate 6 terabits of data every day. And as the population-scale sequencing the system is designed to enable gathers pace, genomics databases will grow even bigger and push network speeds further still beyond what most of us encounter. Web services provider Akamai calculates that the average Internet connection speed in the U.S. is 9.8 megabits per second. The 100-Gbps Internet2 network used by NIH is more than 10,000 times faster.

- here's the GWU release
- read the Washington Business Journal's take