Press release issued by the UK e-Science Programme
Innovating through e-Science: 4th e-Science All Hands meeting
20-22 September 2005, East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham
Challenging the World's Largest Computing Grid
Enough data to fill 17,000 CDs1 were transferred from Edinburgh
University to the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in nine
days, as part of the latest networking challenge by particle physicists.
Delegates to the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting in Nottingham will be
able to watch the progress of the challenge in real time on a screen
showing data being exchanged between sites worldwide.
This challenge is the third (Service Challenge 3 - SC3) in a series of
increasingly difficult tests designed to improve the world's largest
computing Grid. Particle physicists are developing the Grid to cope with
the expected surge of data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC),
currently being built at CERN in Geneva. SC3 has seen, for the first
time, particle physics Grid sites in the UK exchanging data at high
rates for sustained periods. Researchers from the four UK labs taking
part in SC3, at RAL, Imperial College London and the Universities of
Edinburgh and Lancaster, will explain the challenge at the meeting.
The researchers are all part of the GridPP project, the UK contribution
to the international effort to build the LHC Computing Grid (LCG) and
the largest project under the UK e-Science Programme. The LHC detectors
are currently being installed and tested, and the whole experiment will
start operating fully in 2007, producing up to 1500 Megabytes of data a
second for ten years. Nearly 200 sites worldwide currently contribute
13,000 processors to the LCG, which will be used to distribute and
process the huge amounts of data from the LHC. By 2007, this number of
processors will increase by up to a factor of ten, as the Grid gears up
for full-scale operation. The UK is currently the biggest single
contributor to the LCG infrastructure, with more than a fifth of the
Grid's processing power at its 16 sites.
Most of the computing resources being used for LCG are operated as part
of the EU-funded Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project (EGEE), a
consortium of national Grid infrastructures and computing centres from
RAL hosts the UK's leading computer centre for the LCG project -
known as the UK's Tier-1 site. When the LHC is running, RAL will store
and process copies of data from the experiments. Lancaster, Imperial
College and Edinburgh are all known as 'Tier-2' sites, and are
responsible for producing simulated data and analysing data from the LCG
experiments. In SC3, as well as exchanging data with CERN at rates of up
to 650 Mb/s, RAL has been transferring data to and from the other UK
sites at rates of up to 480Mb/s, which is one thousand times faster than
a standard home broadband connection.
Jeremy Coles, GridPP's Operations Manager, has been overseeing the
Service Challenge preparations in the UK and will present a paper in
Nottingham on Grid operations. He is pleased that several UK Tier-2
sites are successfully contributing to SC3. "This is the first time
Tier-2 sites in the UK have been directly involved in an LCG Service
Challenge. The experiences gained through those contributions greatly
help all GridPP and LCG sites in preparing for SC4 and ultimately for
deploying a production grid ready for the start of the LHC era."
RAL and Lancaster University have been using the new high-bandwidth
UKLight internet connection as part of the service challenge. UKLight
provides dedicated connections pre-booked by user groups with high
bandwidth needs, using switched optical light-path technology.
Dr Roger Jones of Lancaster University, who will also be at Nottingham,
is pleased with their use of UKLight, "This is our first experience of
this sort of connection, and our bandwidth requirements will be much
greater in the future. However, to obtain such a useful and stable
connection so quickly is very encouraging, both to us and to the many
potential users in other fields."
The GridPP project is funded by PPARC, and researchers will be
demonstrating their results on the PPARC stand at the conference. In
addition, a number of GridPP members will be presenting papers and
SC3 involves 18 sites worldwide. It started in July 2005 with a testing
phase, where the sites involved ensured the software and networking
connections work at the high rates required. The service phase of the
challenge began on 1 September 2005 and will continue for three months.
During this period, particle physicists working on the LHC experiments
will test aspects of their computing which rely on the Grid, sending
trial jobs, deploying new software and transferring data between sites.
As an example, physicists working on the ATLAS LHC experiment plan to
produce more than 10 million simulated particle physics events on the
LCG during the service challenge.
1 Approximately 12 TB of data transferred or 12 million Mb.
Conference website http://www.allhands.org.uk/.
For more information contact:
PPARC Press Officer
Tel +44 (0)1793 442094
GridPP Dissemination Officer
Tel 07870 404439
UK e-Science Programme
e-Science/Research Communications Officer, JISC/e-Science Core
Tel. 07768 356309
Notes for editors
- Further information about the UK e-Science Programme at
- GridPP is a six-year PPARC project with additional associated funding
from HEFCE, SHEFC, CCLRC and the European Union. A collaboration of
twenty UK Universities and research institutes and CERN, it will provide
the UK's contribution to the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid. For
more information see http://www.gridpp.ac.uk. The GridPP Collaboration
involves: The University of Birmingham; The University of Bristol;
Brunel University; CERN, European Particle Physics Laboratory; The
University of Cambridge; Council for the Central Laboratory of the
Research Councils; The University of Durham; The University of
Edinburgh; The University of Glasgow; Imperial College London; Lancaster
University; The University of Liverpool; The University of Manchester;
Oxford University; Queen Mary, University of London; Royal Holloway,
University of London; The University of Sheffield; The University of
Sussex; University of Wales Swansea; The University of Warwick;
University College London.
- CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, has its headquarters in
Geneva. Its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy,
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian
Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European
Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.
- The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the
UK's strategic science investment agency. It funds research,
education and public understanding in four broad areas of science -
particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.
- PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and
studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers
access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of
international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear
Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern
Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on
La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology
Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National