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Science Requirements for
South Pole Station Computing and Communications

A Report to the South Pole Users' Committee
The South Pole Working Group on Computing and Communications
R. F. Loewenstein, William Smythe, and Brent Jones


The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is rapidly increasing its role as a major scientific facility. However, unlike many facilities that support a single scientific discipline, the station resources must accommodate a variety of disciplines from astrophysics to seismology. This report attempts to address specific growing scientific demands on the computing and communications infrastructure, discussing justifications and recommendations.

The three main topics of this report - Communications, Networks, and Computers - all integrate together to form a necessary tool for the science effort. We may have to draw boundaries to help determine how to spend valuable resources on them, but these boundaries increasingly blur and disappear as the dependence of scientific research upon long distance networking grows.

Since the previous report from this working group two years ago both improvements and losses in capability have occurred. Many of the recommendations from the previous report (see attachment) have neither been implemented nor discussed.

A summary scorecard for computing and communications is as follows:

Improvements in capability:

- Satellite bandwidth
(Bandwidth has improved, though availability remains about constant) - Direct connection to the Internet
- Direct mail service (instead of a tedious hand transfer)
- Direct file transfer under user control

Losses in capability:

- Workspace (and terminal space) in dome for researchers has decreased - Access convenience to VAX has been reduced by replacing terminals with PCs
Some users like 'dumb' terminals as opposed to PC's

Important recommendations of previous report that were not implemented:

- Segmentation and subnetting of LAN
Affects reliability, maintainability, performance, and management
Remove IPX from main LAN
- Support for direct connect of portable computers to the LAN is minimal - Support for some of the operating systems, hardware, and communication systems is
still ad hoc
- Bit-mapped access (x-terminal, graphics, and image display) capability is effectively

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