Topic: National Lambda Rail


The National Lambda Rail is “a U.S. based national research network.” It connects many research universities and some private sector technology companys directly to one another in an attempt to streamline various projects and research. It is comprised of three layers.

The first is a physical layer that made up of a Dense Wave Division Mutiplexing-based national optical footprint. It uses Cisco Systems’ 15808 and 15454 optical electronic systems. This gives it a maximum capacity of 40 and 32 wavelengths per fiber pair. Each of these has a 10 Gbps transmission speed.

The second layer is the Ethernet layer. It provides a nationwide dedicated Point-to-Point Ethernet transport. This transport uses Cisco 8509 switches. There are two connections available, a 1 Gbps and a 10 Gbps.

The third layer is the IP layer. Cisco CRS-1 routers are used by this third layer to provide nationwide IP-based services. “Both backbone and connector links operate at 10 Gbps.”


There are 28 cities in the U.S. that contain nodes for the NLR. The “NLR offers a core set of basic services offered from these nodes” to those 28 cities. Services offered by the core set include Lambda based services, Ethernet based services, and IP based services.

A few Current Participants in the National LambdaRail
  • Michigan State University
  • Microsoft Research
  • Montana State University
  • NASA Ames Research Center
  • NASA Goddard
  • NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • NASA Langley
  • NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
  • NASA Stennis Space Center
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Boulder
  • National Weather Service Forecast Office
  • Naval Post Graduate School
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  • New Mexico State University
  • New York University
  • NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northeast Texas Consortium
  • Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
  • Northern Oklahoma College
  • Northwestern Oklahoma State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University College of Medicine

Primary reasons why the National Lambda Rail was created:
  • To push technology further and to provide a location to test certain new technology and software.
  • To interconnect major research university to work together and to share resources.
  • Provide terascale computing efforts.

Affliated Projects:
  • Atlantic Wave
  • Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS)
  • Circuit-switched High-Speed End-to-End Transport Architecture (CHEETAH)
  • Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA)
  • EnLIGHTened Computing
  • Extensible TeraScale Facility
  • OptIPuter
  • Pacific Wave
  • TeraFlow Testbed
  • TransitRail
  • UltraScience