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How A*STAR is enhancing the research ecosystem in Singapore: ExaNet

This is the last part of a series on how the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is constantly working to support researchers in Singapore and enhance the research ecosystem.

Click here to read the first instalment on the Federated Identity Management System or FIMs, here for the second part on the electronic Chemicals, Biomaterials, Gases Management System, here for the third part on the RIE2020 portal and Future InfoComm System Team applications and here for Storage on Demand.

Scientific research today generates enormous volumes of data. That data needs to be shared to enable collaboration between researchers and develop scientific knowledge.

A*STAR’s ExaNet is a high-performance network that segregates research traffic from corporate traffic. This system was earlier called as Next Generation Research Network (NGRN). It provides a dedicated super-highway for researchers to collaborate both within A*STAR and with external partners such as NTU, NUS, SingAREN, NSCC and overseas research institutions.

An immediate benefit of ExaNet is that it takes less time to transfer large datasets for collaboration purposes. Time spent in transferring files over network has been greatly reduced by up to 90% (network speed upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps), thereby improving user experience.

In addition, there is a reduction of the data transmission errors significantly for studies conducted at the Genome Institute of Singpore (GIS) and A*STAR Computational Resource Centre (ACRC) using Infiniband (a computer-networking communications protocol, with very high throughput and very low latency used in high performance computing or HPC).

This high-speed network greatly assisted researchers of a genome study, the GenomeAsia 100K project, by using ACRC, National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) and SingAREN [1] facilities.

The GenomeAsia 100K project is a non-profit consortium collaborating to sequence and analyse 100,000 Asian individuals genomes, in order to help accelerate Asian population specific medical advances and precision medicine. Under the project, large volumes of genomic data were transferred from U.S.A. to Singapore via the resilient international links and high-speed fiber network.

ExaNet also enhanced research support through collaboration between A*STAR’s BII (Bioinformatics Institute), IMCB (Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology), NUS (National University of Singapore) and other global institutions.  Furthermore, it assisted in satellite program associated Geospatial imaging studies conducted at NTU. 

As seen from the above examples, ExaNet allows researchers to be more efficient and helps them collaborate within A*STAR, as well as with external partners such as NTU, NUS, SingAREN, NSCC and overseas research institutions. Thus, this high-speed network assists the staff to improve their overall productivity.

This helps Singapore to attract more research talent leading to better research outcomes in Singapore. This setup has increased the collaboration among the various institutes by enhancing research collaboration between A*STAR research institutes and external Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore and around the world.

[1] SingAREN is the sole provider of local and international networks dedicated for serving the Research and Education community in Singapore. SingAREN’s members consist of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs), Research Organizations, Government and network industry players.

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