Radical Data Center Design Research Funded by NSF

September 2015…Stony Brook, New York

Himanshu Gupta and Samir Das, faculty in the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, have been awarded a 4-year grant from the National Science Foundation for their research in free-space optics based data center architectures. The $1.2M award is in collaboration with Prof. Jon Longtin from Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University, along with other investigators at Penn State and Carnegie Mellon, with Stony Brook being the lead institution.

The project will explore a radically novel architecture for design of data centers: an all-wireless, fully-flexible network based on free-space optics (FSO) communication links. These links are essentially infrared laser beams used to wirelessly transmit data. The proposed network design equips each rack of servers with a number of FSO devices, each of which can be "steered" in real-time to wirelessly communicate with another FSO device on a different rack. This steering ability enables a dynamic network that adapts to the prevailing network traffic.

"Today’s large data centers use fixed, wired networks. The network cannot change with traffic. So IT folks end up designing the network for the worst case. This raises cost and also the cables are hard to manage,” Professor Gupta said. “We offer a solution using free space optics that controls the network topology as needed. This will lead to data center designs that have minimal wiring and far fewer network switches.”

Both Gupta and Das joined Stony Brook in 2002. They have collaborated on several projects involving wireless networking systems, protocols and algorithms, and jointly lead the Wireless Networking and Systems Laboratory. Prof. Gupta received his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University and Prof. Das received his from Georgia Tech.


Established in 1969, the Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University is consistently ranked among the top Computer Science research departments in the world. A Gourman report indicated Stony Brook's undergraduate program was ranked 15th nationwide and 2nd in New York State. The most recent NRC survey has the graduate school ranked among the top 20 graduate programs in the U.S.