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Computing Grid Helps Get to the Heart of Matter

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In November, when physicists at CERN in Switzerland begin their grand experiment using the world's largest particle accelerator—the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC—computer scientists there and across the globe will also put the world's largest scientific computing grid through its paces.

The success of the experiment—intended to answer such questions as what other particles exist in the universe that we don't know about—will rely in large part on a worldwide, high-speed network that will allow scientists to harness the power of 100,000 computers—mostly PCs—to process the tons of data generated by the experiment.

At CERN, the PCs, CPU servers and disks are linked on a 1G-bps network provided by Hewlett-Packard ProCurve switches. CERN itself will contribute 10 percent of the total necessary processors for the job, including 3,500 PCs and the rest single- or dual-core processors all running a version of Linux called Scientific Linux CERN. CERN will contribute about 8,000 processors to the computing tasks.

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