UNM Establishes 'Science DMZ' Network Link for Genomics Research

August 1, 2014

The UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC), the UNM Information Technologies (IT) Department, the UNM Cancer Center (UNMCC), and UNM Health Sciences Center IT have collaborated to establish a dedicated, high-throughput, cross-campus link between the Cancer Research Facility (CRF) and CARC. The new 10 Gbps link connects next-generation genome sequencers, located in the Analytic and Translational Genomics Core facility of the CRF, to advanced computers and the Research Storage Consortium (RSC) petascale disk array housed at CARC (1 petabyte is approximately 1 million gigabytes, or the equivalent of roughly 400 billion pages of text). The new link enables fast, reliable, and secure transfer of enormous genome sequence files from the UNM Cancer Center for analysis and subsequent data warehouse archiving.


Genomic research data generated using UNM Cancer Center next-gen sequencers will be stored on the Research Storage Consortium HP x9000/7400 mass storage array shown here, and analyzed on CARC supercomputers (Photo Credit: Shavone Otero, UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing).

Dr. Scott Ness, Professor of Internal Medicine and UNM Cancer Center Associate Director for Shared Resources, said: “The UNM Cancer Center is entering an era where we will routinely generate massive sequencing datasets at unprecedented levels of genomic detail.  The new dedicated network link will enable us to focus on the science of genomic analysis and the elucidation of cancer biology, unfettered by data transfer and computing constraints.”   Dr. Gil Gonzales, UNM Chief Information Officer, noted: “This project is part of UNM’s larger direction to collaborate across campuses and expand network infrastructure for research here and statewide.”   UNM IT works closely with departments and Centers at UNM, and with research institutions throughout New Mexico, to provide production, commodity, and research network services. 


Scott Ness, PhD, looks on as Jeremy Edwards, PhD, starts the genome sequencing process on an Ion Torrent sequencer at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center Analytic and Translational Genomics Core (Photo Credit: Paul Akmajian/UNM Health Sciences Center).

This point-to-point connection is the first step toward establishing a campus-wide research network at UNM. The connection is based on the “Science DMZ” model formalized by the Department of Energy’s ESnet in 2010.  The new link delivers a low-latency, high-bandwidth, unfiltered connection via UNM’s campus network.  End-to-end jumbo frames and tuned servers at source and destination enable large packet transfers and increased data transfer speeds. A firewall that HSC IT established at the CRF isolates all sequencer traffic from the Health Sciences Center production network. “Establishing this high-performance, dedicated link from the UNM Cancer Center to the campus supercomputer center will enable cutting-edge genomic research and paves the way for ‘big data’ links to support research in other science and engineering disciplines,” said CARC Director Dr. Susan Atlas.

For more information, read the full press release.

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