Thumpers Soak Up Hadron Collider Petabytes

As reported in Sun’s On the Record blog, the French organization National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics (IN2P3/CNRS) is helping store and process the massive amounts of data coming from the Large Hadron Collider:
“You may have heard that yesterday, Sept. 10, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) flipped the switch on its Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding two beams of subatomic particles head-on, at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will then analyze the particles created in the collision to gain a better understanding of some of the fundamental laws of nature. (For an alternative description, check out the Large Hadron Rap.)
What does all this require? Storage. Massive amounts of storage. Enough power and storage to handle 15 Petabytes per year, making the data available to thousands of physicists for analysis. CERN needs to store all the raw data, and also turn the raw data into something physicists can use — and store that too. Reliable storage is a critical factor for successful LHC experiments.
To help them handle this massive amount of storage, CERN is utilizing Sun StorageTek SL8500 modular library systems and Sun StorageTek T10000 tape drives. In addition, the installation was greatly simplified with the use of Sun’s Customer Ready program.
Some other interesting LHC factoids:
– There is 10 times more atmosphere on the moon than there will be in the LHC.
– With an operating temperature of about ‐271 degrees Celsius, just 1.9 degrees above absolute zero, the LHC is colder than outer space.
– When two beams of protons collide in the LHC, they will generate temperatures 1000 million times hotter than the heart of the sun, but in a minuscule space.”
One amazing thing about this story is that the IN2P3/CNRS was deployed with Sun Customer Ready Systems. Thanks to their initial success, IN2P3 Computing Center is adding an additional 1.6 petabytes of disk storage through 85 additional Sun Fire X4500 servers. You can read the IN2P3/CNRS success story on


About Rich
FlexRex began his life as a cartoon character I created a Sun Microsystems. As the world's first "fictional blogger," he appeared in numerous parody films that made fun of the whole work-from-home thing. Somewhere along the line, the Sun IT department adopted FlexRex as their spokesman in a half-dozen security awareness films for employees. So when I left Sun recently, I started FlexRex Communications, a Marketing company in Portland, Oregon.

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