TGen's new link to ASU supercomputer is nation's fastest

Cox Business LightWave Service connection, enhanced by Obsidian Strategics military technology, accelerates analysis of disease research

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Aug. 13, 2010 - A new light-speed computer connection using a military-tested network provides the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) with the nation's fastest supercomputer link among life-science facilities.

This enhanced capability moves data up to 100 times faster between TGen and Saguaro 2, Arizona State University's supercomputer, accelerating TGen's molecular research into diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and many types of cancer.

The transfer and processing of data sets containing trillions of bits of DNA information that once took more than a week will now be done in just a few hours.

To make this possible, Cox Business Arizona has installed a 10-gigabit LightWave fiber-optic connection between TGen in downtown Phoenix and the Saguaro 2 supercomputer, 10 miles away at Arizona State University's main campus in Tempe.

The new connection replaces a 1-gigabit line, increasing the speed of data transfer by up to 100 times because of data-encryption technology designed for military applications by Obsidian Strategics, a Canadian-based defense-intelligence contractor.

"Every advance in computer technology helps us move ever-closer to finding new and better ways to diagnose - and help select treatment for - patients who are counting on us to help improve their quality of life. We expect this new system to be a significant step in that direction," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Research Director.

The new system, one of the first civilian uses of this military technology, will allow TGen scientists to more quickly analyze next-generation whole genome sequences - readouts of the entire 3-billion chemical letters in an individual's DNA.

"The field of biomedical research presents one of the greatest opportunities in transferring massive amounts of data from point to point. Our Cox LightWave Service accomplishes this quickly and with 100 percent security over our wholly-owned network. It's ideal for enterprises like TGEN, ASU and datacenters that transmit and receive information in terabytes," said Hyman Sukiennik, Vice President-Cox Business Arizona.

Reducing transmission time will become even more critical in the future, with TGen's next generation sequencers easily producing as much as 30 terabytes of data per experiment, or the equivalent of an iPod with 15 million songs.

To make full use of the Cox Business LightWave connection, each end of the 10-mile link will connect through an Obsidian Longbow, a high performance network product originally designed to meet the mission critical demands of the U.S. Department of Defense's next generation Large Data communications architecture. The Longbow is manufactured in Phoenix by Suntron Corporation.

Cox's Business LightWave connection uses Dense Wave Division Multiplexing technology, enabling two or more optical signals having different wavelengths to be simultaneously transmitted in the same direction over one strand of fiber.

Obsidian's technology leverages existing optical networks. In a recent collaboration with NASA's Ames Research Center in California and Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, full line-rate encryption was added to the enterprise class product. Strong encryption typically degrades throughput performance even on fast servers. In contrast, Longbow's use of the High Performance Computing (supercomputing) InfiniBand protocol, combined with an integrated hardware cryptography engine, delivers virtually full channel throughput with or without encryption enabled.

While encrypting the information is critical to maintaining patient privacy and to the protection of intellectual property rights, the Obsidian Longbows go further to provide secure user authentication, preventing unauthorized access to Saguaro 2 and TGen's sequencing equipment.

"With Longbow's ability to achieve near perfect utilization of a 10Gb Ethernet connection, researchers at TGen should realize a 100X performance boost over their existing capability," said Dr. David Southwell, Obsidian's Chief Technology Officer. "Though we remain very committed to our work with the military/intelligence community, it is gratifying to see our Longbow technology being adopted in other markets, especially in the area of bioscience and medical research. Hats off to TGen for leading the way."

Obsidian's Longbow devices were used to win the bandwidth challenge at the Supercomputing 2009 show in November maintaining the highest throughput coast-to-coast link from the Supercomputing event in Portland to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.

The Saguaro 2 supercomputer used by TGen is located at ASU's Barry M. Goldwater Center for Science and Engineering.

"ASU is pleased to enter into this relationship with TGen, Obsidian, and Cox Business," said Lee Seabrooke, ASU's Director of Knowledge Informatics. "The High Performance Computing Initiative at ASU, along with our extensive academic and scientific resources, uniquely positions ASU to be able to address the most critical challenges of our time."

Dr. Edward Suh, TGen's Chief Information Officer, said the enhanced computer systems should help position TGen as a leader in biomedical data analysis.

"In addition to next-generation whole genome sequencing, the faster computer connections also will help data transfers in the emerging field of proteomics, in which TGen will identify protein biomarkers linked to the causes of disease," said Dr. Suh. "We have to be mindful of patients. Anything we can do to expedite the path to treatment is a plus."


About Cox Business
Cox Business provides voice, Internet, data and video services for nearly 250,000 small and regional businesses, including health care providers, K-12 and higher education, financial institutions and federal, state and local government organizations. According to Vertical Systems Group, Cox Business is the fourth largest provider of business Ethernet services in the U.S. based on customer ports. Cox is currently the seventh largest voice service provider in the U.S. and supports more than 650,000 business phone lines. For more information about Cox Business, visit or call 1-800-396-1609.

Cox Communications Arizona
Cox Communications is the third largest cable provider and a multi-service broadband communications company serving nearly 3 million residential and business product subscribers in Arizona (a product subscriber represents an individual service purchased by a customer). In metro Phoenix, Cox serves approximately 2.5 million product subscribers. In Southern Arizona, Cox serves approximately 400,000 product subscribers. Cox's 18,500-mile hybrid fiber coaxial cable network throughout Phoenix and Southern Arizona provides homes and businesses with digital television, high speed Internet, home networking, high-definition television and digital telephone service over its own nationwide IP network. During the past eight years, Cox has topped numerous J.D. Power and Associates' studies of customer satisfaction, most recently receiving top honors for residential telephone & high speed Internet, and business data services and has received PC Magazine's "people's choice" award for the fifth time. Cox Media is responsible for the sale of cable advertising throughout Arizona. Cox Communications is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc and serves approximately 6 million customers nationwide. Additional information about Cox in Arizona is available at

Press Contact:
David Weissman
Cox Business
[email protected]


About Obsidian Strategics
Obsidian Strategics™ through its subsidiary, Obsidian Research Corporation, is the developer of Longbow™, a series of InfiniBand products featuring range extension, routing and encryption. Longbow technology allows an InfiniBand fabric, normally a short-range network used in high-performance computing, to be extended via optical fiber over varying distances. Longbow connects across Campus, Metro or Global networks to enable unparalleled real-time backup over long-distance, high-bandwidth video transmission and efficient movement of large data sets to compute and storage resources.

Press Contact:
Dr. David Southwell
Chief Technology Officer
[email protected]


About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit:

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]


About the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University
The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University serve more than 4,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students, providing skills and knowledge for shaping careers marked by innovation and societal impact. Ranked nationally in the top 10 percent among accredited engineering programs, the schools engage in use-inspired research in a multidisciplinary setting for the benefit of individuals, society and the environment. The schools' 200-plus faculty members teach and pursue research in areas of electrical, chemical, mechanical, aerospace, civil, environmental and sustainable engineering, as well as bioengineering, computer science and engineering, informatics, decision systems and construction management. The schools of engineering also work in partnership with the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and faculty work collaboratively with the Biodesign Institute at ASU, the School of Sustainability and the Global Institute of Sustainability. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Joe Kullman
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University
Phone: (480) 965-8122
[email protected]

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