Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What to do with 15 million gigabytes of data

03.11.2008
When it is fully up and running, the four massive detectors on the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN particle-physics lab near Geneva are expected to produce up to 15 million gigabytes, aka 15 petabytes, of data every year.

Andreas Hirstius, manager of CERN Openlab and the CERN School of Computing, explains in November’s Physics World how computer scientists have risen to the challenge of dealing with this unprecedented volume of data.

When CERN staff first considered how they might deal with the large volume of data that the huge collider would produce when its two beams of protons collide, in the mid-1990s, a single gigabyte of disk space still cost a few hundred dollars and CERN’s total external connectivity was equivalent to just one of today’s broadband connections.

It quickly became clear that computing power at CERN, even taking Moore’s Law into account, would be significantly less than that required to analyse LHC data. The solution, it transpired during the 1990s, was to turn to "high-throughput computing" where the focus is not on shifting data as quickly as possible from A to B but rather from shifting as much information as possible between those two points.

High-performance computing is ideal for particle physics because the data produced in the millions of proton-proton collisions are all independent of one another - and can therefore be handled independently. So, rather than using a massive all-in-one mainframe supercomputer to analyse the results, the data can be sent to separate computers, all connected via a network.

From here sprung the LHC Grid. The Grid, which was officially inaugurated last month, is a tiered structure centred on CERN (Tier-0), which is connected by superfast fibre links to 11 Tier-1 centres at places like the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK and Fermilab in the US. More than one CD's worth of data (about 700 MB) can be sent down these fibres to each of the Tier-1 centres every second.

Tier 1 centres then feed down to another 250 regional Tier-2 centres that are in turn accessed by individual researchers through university computer clusters and desktops and laptops (Tier-3).

As Andreas Hirstius writes, “The LHC challenge presented to CERN’s computer scientists was as big as the challenges to its engineers and physicists. The computer scientists managed to develop a computing infrastructure that can handle huge amounts of data, thereby fulfilling all of the physicists’ requirements and in some cases even going beyond them.”

Also in this issue:

• President George W Bush’s science adviser, the physicist John H Marburger, asks whether Bush’s eight years in office have been good for science in the US.

• Brian Cox may be the media-friendly face of particle physics, but how does the former D:Ream pop star, now a Manchester University physics professor, find the time for both research and his outreach work?

• Beauty and the beast: in his 100th column for Physics World, Robert P Crease asks whether CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the biggest experiment of all time, can be dubbed “beautiful”.

Joe Winters | alfa
Further information:
http://www.physicsworld.com

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Predictions by GSI scientists now confirmed: Heavy elements in neutron star mergers detected
17.10.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht ‘Find the Lady’ in the quantum world
17.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Taking screening methods to the next level

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

‘Find the Lady’ in the quantum world

17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>