You are here

Elite Canadian Computing Centre Helps Launch Worldwide Grid

News Release | For Immediate Release | October 03, 2008


(Vancouver, BC) -- Today, three weeks after the first particle beams were injected into the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid celebrated the start of its crucial data challenge. Canadians gathered at TRIUMF in Vancouver to celebrate their role as host to one of eleven massive "Tier-1" computing centres connected to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The ATLAS Canada Tier-1 Data Centre at TRIUMF provides another vital link between Canada and the global science and technology community.

"Our ability to manage data at this scale is the product of several years of intense testing," said Ian Bird, leader of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid project. "Today's result demonstrates the excellent and successful collaboration we have enjoyed with countries all over the world. Without these international partnerships, such an achievement would be impossible." The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) combines the power of more than 140 computer centres, the result of collaboration between 33 countries, to analyze more than 15 million Gigabytes of data every year, produced from the hundreds of millions of subatomic collisions expected inside the LHC every second.

"The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid puts in place the necessary infrastructure to allow the ATLAS Canada Tier-1 Data Centre to contribute to an international effort to understand nature at the most fundamental level," said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). "The extensive partnership on which this project rests will ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources and the greatest impact on Canada's capacity to innovate." CFI provided $10.6 million in support of the national proposal led by Simon Fraser University in 2006 to launch the Canadian Tier-1 Data Centre.

Canada's high-profile position in the global grid is largely a result of the advanced networking infrastructure provided by CANARIE and BCNET. "CANARIE is very proud to partner with others in order to provide the vital link for data to be brought to the Canadian Computing Centres from CERN," said Guy Bujold, President and CEO of CANARIE Inc. "Our advanced network also enables the sharing of this massive amount of data at various Canadian sites."

"BCNET's newly upgraded Optical Regional Advanced Network is providing TRIUMF with unprecedented bandwidth, a dedicated 10 gigabit per second fibre optic connection," said Michael Hrybyk, President and CEO of BCNET. "The province's research network is a vital link for transporting large amounts of data around the world."

"By playing a critical role in this international project, Canada is joining the computing and networking elite of the world," said Michel C. Vetterli, project leader of the Canadian Tier-1 Data Centre at TRIUMF and professor of physics at Simon Fraser University. "The launch of the WLCG not only gives Canadian researchers first-class access to the physics of the LHC, but it also puts Canada on the map as a major player in this priority area of technology."

CERN was effusive in its praise of the successful launch of the data-sharing and networking project. "The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid is a vital pillar of the LHC project," said Jos Engelen, chief scientific officer for the LHC project. "It is an absolute necessity for analysis of the LHC data. It is the result of a 'silent revolution' in large scale computing over the last five years."

The WLCG relies on dedicated optical fibre networks to distribute data from CERN to eleven major computer centres in Europe, North America, and Asia. Together, these distributed computers provide the power to manage the LHC's data. The innovative networking backbone provided by CANARIE has been essential for Canada's participation in this "silent revolution." BCNET, Cybera, HEPNET, ORION, and RISQ also play important roles in connecting the "Tier-2" centres at McGill University, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta, the University of Toronto, and the University of Victoria to the Tier-1 centre at TRIUMF. The Tier-2 centres will use the results of the first stage of data analysis at the Tier-1 centres to extract ground-breaking physics results from LHC data.

Grid computing benefits more than just physics, however. Large-scale computing is also actively used in chemistry, biology, and environmental research. Large financial firms around the world have been taking advantage of grid computing with some purchasing clusters of more than 50,000 CPUs running grid software to process more than a 1,000 Gigabytes of data in one day.

The ATLAS Canada Tier-1 Data Centre is managed by a consortium of universities (see attachment) led by Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. It was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) with significant in-kind contributions from TRIUMF and from the computing industry, notably IBM, in the form of discounts on hardware purchases.



ATLAS Canada Tier-1 Data Centre
Prof. Michel Vetterli
Tier-1 Data Centre Project Leader
TRIUMF/Simon Fraser University
Phone: +1.778.782.5488
E-mail: Michel Vetterli

Prof. Robert McPherson
ATLAS-Canada Spokesperson
University of Victoria / IPP
Phone: +1.604.222.7654
E-mail: Rob McPherson

TRIUMF, Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics
Dr. Timothy I. Meyer
Head, Strategic Planning & Communications
Phone: + 1.604.222.7674
E-mail: Tim Meyer


All News Releases