Unwired in Maui

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Join me as we head to Maui. All your expenses are paid by Uncle Sam since this is a work trip. We are exploring the future of wireless.

Our assignment: report on progress in real-time battlefield monitoring systems. Mapping programs like Earthviewer might deliver real-time situation reports, anywhere.

We are authorized to go behind the NO ADMITTANCE signs. Just flash them your Homeland Security badge and tell them John Poindexter sent you. We are on the ultimate unwired adventure.

First up: An interview with Steve Berkoff (left). He’s the CEO of Maui Sky Fiber, shown here demonstrating the plug-and-play ease of their IPWireless 3G Modem during a product launch at the Maui Research & Technology Center in April 2002.

Maui Sky Fiber provides businesses and residents around Maui with 128kb/s to 6mb/s wireless connectivity. The system covers our hotel on the beach using the multipoint, multichannel distribution system (MMDS) at 2.5 GHz rather than cellular.

Next: We’ll plug our 6 Mbps wireless link into a 3 GHz Pentium laptop with NVidia workstation graphics which will be integrated into a PDA-size OQO next year. Our 3D map will be displayed in a head-mounted display. Real-time situation maps will be accessed on the battlefield. The idea is that multi-spectral scans, land sensors and situation reports, can be integrated into displays that solders can wear. It will save lives and give us a “force multiplier”. Our job is to report on system integration progress.

A special demonstration has been arranged with the Maui High Performance Computing Center. Their Linux SuperCluster (above) consists of 260 nodes running Red Hat Linux. Last week HPCC fired up their 320 CPU IBM Power4 system with a peak capacity of 1.66 Teraflops.

Grid computing unites pools of servers, storage systems and networks into one large system. IBM’s Grid products include management software from Platform Computing, DataSynapse, Avaki, Entropia and UnitedDevices. The DOE’s Science Grid can use open source software from the Globus Toolkit and Sun’s GridEngine. Merging the strengths of the Butterfly Net (for game developers) with Collab.net (for Web-based collaboration) may be like herding cats but it’s worthy of investigation. TeraBurst’s Wide Area Visualization Solution, for example, enables fully interactive collaboration between visualization centers across the globe. Grid Today has the latest news. Today, we’re just testing out the link cross-connections. We’re not alone. The Subaru Telescope in Hawaii downloads images over Transpac.

We’re using Calient’s Photonic Switch for our optical cross-connections, eliminating slow electronic switches. Taiwan is buying them to establish a nationwide, 10 Gbps optical infrastructure. The TeraGrid links Argonne Lab, NCSA, Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center, Cal Tech and UCSD together at 40 Gbps over optical fiber.

Our 10 GigE connection goes to one of the largest telescopes in the world, the Air Force’s Maui Space Surveillance System (MSSS). The deformable, 3.67-meter Advanced Electro Optical System (AEOS) is the largest telescope in the Department of Defense. The MSSS facility combines electro-optical satellite tracking with a research and development facility for the Directed Energy Directorate. At least that’s the story according to Dr. Good.

Our actual mission is to report on the operational status of a prototype all optical 10 GigE connection from the Pentagon to Maui. We’ll be using the optical uplink and downlink at Space Surveillence. An optical transceiver, slipped into the latest Milsat and TDRS should give us bandwidth to burn. Optical contractor Trex says they’ll use a 72 GHz downlink in poor weather. ABC used their microwave for 1.5 Gbp/s, HDTV transmission at the Superbowl. The Coriolis satellite, a DOD Test Program, was launched into orbit January 6th, 2003.

Okay, I think we’ve got everything hooked up. Let’s double check our connections with Maui’s High Performance Computing Center, the hyperthreaded Pentium driving our head mounted display and our wireless links using Maui Sky Fiber (for wide areas) and Ultawide Band links (for Local Areas). Okay, I think we’re ready.

“John, are you there? JOHN, CAN YOU HEAR ME? …JOHN???…”

Posted by Sam Churchill on Sunday, January 26th, 2003 at 4:40 pm .

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