Meeting the Big Science Needs of the SKA: What NREN’s can Do and the Internet Can Not

Mr Peter Elford1, Mr Tim Rayner2, Mr Chris Myers3

1AARNet, Canberra, Australia,

2AARNet, Canberra, Australia,

3AARNet, Melbourne, Australia,



The scale of the SKA [1] represents a huge leap forward in the engineering needed  to deliver a unique instrument (a radio telescope) as part of an international collaboration. The SKA will generate, process and store enormous quantities of data and AARNet has been working with several efforts to ensure this volume of data gets into the hands and systems of the science community. This talk will focus on work undertaken in partnership with GEANT and others [3] to prove network throughput from the AARNet backbone and the MRO [3] in Australia, to important research facilities in Europe, such as the GEANT backbone and ASTRON, as well as to the USA. The tests have been conducted with hosts connected at 10Gbps and 100Gbps, and prove the network throughput capabilities between AARNet and the wider NREN community. Notably, testing conducted over network paths through the commercial Internet demonstrated very poor results.

This lightning talk specifically relates to the Generating, Collecting and Moving Data theme.

[1] Square Kilometre Array –

[2] “Taking it to the limit – testing the performance of R&E networking” –

[3] Murchison Radio Observatory –

[4] NREN – National Research and Education Network


Peter Elford manages AARNet’s relationships across a broad range of Federal and state government agencies, and AARNet’s engagement with the Australian research community. He is a strong and passionate advocate for the role Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays in enabling globally collaborative and competitive research through ultra-high speed broadband connectivity. Peter is an ICT professional with over 30 years’ experience within the government, education, research and industry sectors having worked at the Australian National University, AARNet (twice) and Cisco. In his first stint at AARNet (in 1990) he engineered much of the original Internet in Australia.

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