A series of ultra-high-speed fiber-optic cables will link a cluster of West Coast university laboratories and supercomputer centres into a network called the Pacific Research Platform.
The internet is being built as part of a five year $5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation.
It will move data at speeds of 10 gigabits to 100 gigabits among 10 University of California campuses and 10 other universities and research institutions in several states, tens or hundreds of times faster than is typical now.
Thomas A. DeFanti, a specialist in scientific visualisation at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or Calit2, at the University of California, San Diego said that there is a challenge in moving large amounts of scientific data is that the open Internet is designed for transferring small amounts of data.
A conventional network connection might be rated at 10 gigabits per second, in practice scientists trying to transfer large amounts of data often find that the real rate is only a fraction of that capacity.
Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist who is director of Calit2 and the principal investigator for the new project said that the new network will serve as a model for future computer networks in the same way the original NSFnet, created in 1985 to linked research institutions, eventually became part of the backbone for the internet.
In addition to moving data between laboratories, the high-speed network will make new kinds of distributed computing for scientific applications possible.