FRIB connected to world’s fastest science network – DOE’s Energy Sciences Network

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) is now connected to the world’s fastest science network, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). FRIB, Michigan State University Information Technology (MSU IT), and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) collaborated to connect FRIB to ESnet. The high-speed computer network is funded by the DOE Office of Science (DOE-SC), serving DOE scientists and their collaborators around the world. Staff at LBNL operate ESnet as a DOE-SC user facility.

With FRIB user operation commencing in early 2022, connecting to ESnet is an important step in serving scientific users who will use FRIB to conduct breakthrough, data-intensive discovery research. ESnet provides the high-performance network needed for sharing large volumes of data between MSU and remote collaborators. This enables rapid data-informed decision-making and transferring large data sets for offline analysis to partner institutions.

“The kick-off of groundbreaking science at FRIB beginning in 2022 is a major development in the nuclear physics community that advances the mission of the Office of Nuclear Physics to discover, explore, and understand all forms of nuclear matter,” said DOE-SC Associate Director of Science for Nuclear Physics, Timothy Hallman. “Data connectivity is critical part of achieving that mission. FRIB’s connection to ESnet will enable scientists to share and distribute data in near real-time around the world, enabling new discoveries about the structure of nuclei and the origin of heavy elements in the cosmos.”

According to the ESnet website, while home network speeds average 6.6 megabits per second, ESnet can move data at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps). Every month, ESnet moves 20 petabytes of data—the equivalent of 20 billion books. ESnet5—ESnet’s fifth-generation network—launched in November 2012, bringing 100 Gbps-bandwidth to DOE research sites and the ability to scale network capacity by 440 percent over ESnet4. The next-generation network, ESnet6, is scheduled to be completed in 2023. More than 50 DOE-SC laboratories and research sites are directly connected to this network. The ESnet network also connects to more than 140 other research and commercial networks, allowing DOE researchers to collaborate with scientists around the world.

“ESnet is specifically designed to handle the challenges of transferring large data sets that are an essential part of scientific discovery,” said DOE-SC Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) Facilities Division Director Benjamin Brown, who supervises ESnet. “It is engineered and optimized to remove constraints on scientific progress by allowing researchers to use facilities like FRIB independent of time and location with state-of-the-art performance levels.”

MSU IT and FRIB met with ESnet to improve the direct fiber-optic path from FRIB to a major Internet hub in Chicago, by establishing a redundant fiber-optic loop on campus. The loop enables the ESnet and MSU Internet connection to work even if one of the loops fails.

“The successful connection to ESnet marks an important step for FRIB,” said FRIB Laboratory Director Thomas Glasmacher. “FRIB’s mission is to enable scientists to make discoveries, and connecting to ESnet supports that mission by allowing for improved data sharing between FRIB users and their international collaborators. We are so grateful for the outstanding collaboration between MSU IT and FRIB toward achieving this milestone.”

MSU ran new fiber from FRIB to MSU’s College of Communications Arts and Sciences Building. From there, campus fiber connects to the Michigan Innovative Network (MiNet) fiber. The MiNet fiber provides network circuits across Michigan to Chicago, with plans to extend to Toledo. MSU has dedicated existing campus fiber that extends from FRIB to the MSU Computer Center and passes through to the MSU Data Center. From the MSU Data Center, this fiber also connects to MiNet to Chicago.

“Ensuring FRIB’s data infrastructure effectively supports its scientific mission and user community is of paramount importance to MSU IT,” said MSU Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Information Officer Melissa Woo. “We’re pleased to partner with FRIB on the ESnet connection to ensure the high-impact science FRIB will enable is supported by a high-performance data network.”

Michigan State University operates FRIB as a user facility for the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Hosting the most powerful heavy-ion accelerator, FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit