First 100Gbps Community Network in Singapore for Research & Education

First 100Gbps Community Network in Singapore for Research & Education

Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network (SingAREN) announced the launch of the first 100Gbps community network in the Southeast Asia region. The SingAREN-Lightwave Internet Exchange (SLIX) would allow the research and education community access to a super high speed 100Gbps network, that is a 100 times upgrade compared to existing implementation.

slix demo

How fast is 100Gbps?

It translates to a download speed of 12.5 gigabytes per second – you could copy a complete Blu-ray disc in a couple of seconds. Instead of such frivolous demands, the research and education community are targeting important research areas such as genomics, meteorology and other big data sets.

Funded by SingAREN and the National Research Foundation (NRF), SLIX is a collaboration and a network built between SingAREN, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS). These are also the core members of the SLIX ring with the 100G dual-direction ring setup. The external connections have not yet matched up but could benefit from future upgrades soon. Prof Francis Lee Bu Sung, President of SingAREN shared the example that Google SG are looking to increase their current connectivity from 1G to 10G. This will help ensure quicker response and ability to handle the thousands of Youtube requests from the community.

SLIX Network

What it means for the normal user

The entire 90,000 strong community (students, researchers, scientists, staff) in A*STAR, NUS, NTU, and SingAREN would migrate over to the new SLIX backbone. However, if you are a local student and think that now’s the perfect time to set up a local internet and file sharing hub, it is not so straightforward. The benefits would probably be generally smoother access for everyone and less throttling for bandwidth but speeds would remain capped at about 1G. Today’s consumer-level technology would max out at 1G transfer speeds across gigabit Ethernet and Wireless AC so even from a peer to peer perspective, you would not reach anywhere close to 100G connection speeds. It will have to wait until we see fiber-optic communication interfaces at the PC level become mainstream. Apple Thunderbolt might have been such an interface – which can move up to 20G, or the next likely network interface would be Intel’s own developed Silicon Photonics MXC Connector. That can handle 1.6 terabytes per second. Mind boggling? 1.6 terabytes is 16x the speed of the SLIX network and is a peek towards the type of technology speeds that we will move towards across the next decade.

In the olden days, Singapore strength lies in its geographical location, and we were the hub where the various sea ports converge. Interestingly, fast forward to today, Singapore is instead the regions’ global data management hub that’s connected to 15 active submarine cable systems, with a total submarine cable capacity of 114 Tbps (and probably more by now). With such well placed connectivity, our own island infrastructure is positioned to fully capitalise on connectivity. SLIX is indeed a promising start as we start to move towards a next step of super fast broadband.