Faster data transfer

A protocol developed by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory has been used to transfer unprecedented amounts of data over a computer network.

GridFTP, a protocol developed by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, has been used to transfer unprecedented amounts of data over the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet).

The Argonne-developed system proved key to enabling research groups at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in California to move large data sets between the facilities at a rate of 200MBytes/s.

‘Conventional protocols have proven unable to handle the increasing demand of large-scale data transfer. The result has been delays in obtaining data, or even lost data as the network becomes overwhelmed. GridFTP changes that,’ said Ian Foster, co-director of the Globus Alliance project responsible for designing GridFTP.

As large-scale collaborative science projects become increasingly common, the need to transfer unprecedented amounts of data is becoming critical. Having GridFTP on ESnet will enable the sharing of data between supercomputer centres in disciplines such as climate modelling and nuclear physics.

‘High-performance networking has become critical to science due to the size of the data sets and the wide scope of the collaboration characteristics of today’s large science projects such as climate research and high-energy physics,’ said Eli Dart, a network engineer for ESnet, which is managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

GridFTP offers several advantages over other data transfer systems. For example, with Secure Copy, or scp, bulk transfer of a 33GByte data set between the two remote hosts could take up to eight hours. With GridFTP, almost 20 times that amount of data can be transferred in the same amount of time. And, unlike the transfer application FTP, GridFTP uses multiple data channels for improving the transfer speed.

More information on GridFTP is available at

More information on ESNet is available at