Ethernet Switches Aid in Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Fujitsu Computer Products of America Inc., a supplier of computer products in Sunnyvale, Calif., and the University of California, Berkeley, released a jointly authored paper titled “Fujitsu 10Gb Ethernet Switches Enable Researchers to Study the Universe for Signs of Life,” which examines the university’s information processing demands as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. The paper outlines the challenges of the SETI project, the use of telescopes to search billions of galaxies for radio signals, and how the Fujitsu XG2000 series of Ethernet switches processes the information and disseminates it to the millions of volunteers working on the SETI@home collaboration.

“We have an infinite amount of data continuously pouring in through small packets of information, which is routed to millions of different locations,” said Dan Werthimer, director of the center for astronomy signal processing and electronics research at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. “Our switch requirements are very demanding, and the XG2000C is working perfectly by handling 300 gigabits per second data rates continuously and producing spectacular images of our galaxy and beyond.”

The SETI@home project includes volunteers that analyze data and report abnormal radio signals to UC Berkeley. The project uses

42 radio telescopes that can capture millions of frequencies from multiple star systems simultaneously. UC Berkeley required switches that could handle passing large amounts of data across the switch fabric quickly without dropping any frames that could hold a significant scientific discovery. This technology also can be applied to other industries requiring similar high--performance networks such as weather forecasting and climate study, genomics and molecular modeling, and high-volume financial trading applications.

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