This week, UK particle physicists have demonstrated the worlds largest, working computing Grid. With over 6,000 computers at 78 sites internationally, the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid (LCG) is the first permanent, worldwide Grid for doing real science. The UK is a major part of LCG, providing more than 1,000 computers in 12 sites. At the 2004 UK e-Science All Hands Meeting in Nottingham, particle physicists representing a collaboration of 20 UK institutions will explain to biologists, chemists and computer scientists how they reached this milestone.
Particle physics experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), currently under construction at CERN in Geneva will produce around 15 Petabytes of data each year - 15 million, billion bytes. To deal with this vast volume of data, particle physicists worldwide have been building a computing Grid. By 2007, this Grid will have the equivalent of 100,000 of todays fastest computers working together to produce a virtual supercomputer, which can be expanded and developed as needed. When the LHC experiments start in 2007, they are expected to reveal new physics processes that were crucial in building the Universe we see today, and shed light on mysteries such as the origin of mass.
Grid computing has been a target for IT developers and scientists for more than five years. It allows scientists to access computer power and data from around the world seamlessly, without needing to know where the computers are. Analysis for particle physics can also be done on conventional supercomputers, but these are expensive and in high demand. Grid computing, in contrast, is constructed from thousands of cheap units that can be increased to meet users needs. Like the web before it, the Grid has the potential to impact on everyones computing.
Julia Maddock | alfa
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