SCinet Set to Unveil Wi-Fi 6E Network Technology at SC22

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Why do scientists, researchers and engineers – across the globe – flock to SC every year?

The answers are many, but most center on their quest for discovery, to learn about the latest and most innovative high-performance computing and next-generation networking technologies that are redefining the way we live and work.

And at SC22, that thirst for advanced technological solutions also applies to the conference’s customized wireless network, which will enable thousands of attendees and exhibitors to connect and communicate seamlessly with colleagues inside and outside the spacious Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

Thanks to the contribution of millions of dollars in equipment and manpower by PIER Group, a 2022 SCinet Diamond contributor, the conference’s SCinet high-capacity network will – for the first time – feature Wi-Fi 6E (6 GHz) technology. But don’t worry, it’s backwards compatible so your current electronics will connect.

According to PIER Group’s Director of Networking Shannon Champion, who is leading a 10-person team from the company that will install and oversee the network, Wi-Fi 6E is “unexplored territory” for most Wi-Fi network users in research, education or enterprises.

“This is new technology that very few have deployed at scale,” Shannon explains. “Wi-Fi 6E will give SC22 attendees a wired-like experience, just like being connected to a switch, anywhere in the conference area that is covered by wireless.”

Recently, PIER Group completed the largest deployment of Wi-Fi 6E technology to date for the entire University of Michigan campus. Serving more than 63,000 students with 16,000 access points across 225 buildings, the new network can accommodate up to 70,000 concurrent Wi-Fi connections at download speeds up to 750 megabits per second.

Of course, SCinet is no stranger to innovation. Since its birth in 1991, for the fourth SC event held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, SCinet is annually the most powerful and advanced network in the world for the duration of the conference. To learn about SCinet’s many networking milestones, visit the SCinet History page.

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Every year, network experts who either volunteer or participate through sponsorships join together to design, build and administer the SCinet wireless and wired infrastructure. Leading the approximately 200-person team this year is SCinet Chair Matthew J. Zekauskas, senior researcher at Internet2.

While PIER Group has been a longtime SC exhibitor and SCinet participant, the company was asked to provide additional support last year. This was due to the need for additional wired and wireless capacity to accommodate the thousands of attendees who attended virtually due to the pandemic, and thus could only view presentations and events via streaming.

“The feedback we received was that a lot of the exhibitors didn’t need to plug into (wired network) switches because the wireless service was so good,” notes Shannon. “And we’re expanding beyond that this year.”

Beyond its ability to enable exhibitors and attendees to maintain connectivity, SCinet serves as the platform for demonstrating advanced computing resources by supporting a wide variety of bandwidth-driven supercomputing and cloud computing applications through workshops, demos and collaborations.

As always, the SCinet hub for SC this year will be in its show floor-based networking operating center (NOC), which also serves as a display area for the latest commercial equipment used to run this high-performance wired and wireless network.

Learn more about SCinet and discover how to become a SCinet volunteer or contributor. SCinet also includes opportunities for Student Volunteers and Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) participants.

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