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ATLAS Canadian Tier-1 Data Centre

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The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN will use proton-proton collisions at the highest energy ever achieved in the laboratory to look for the Higgs boson, the particle central to the current model of how subatomic particles attain mass. ATLAS will also search for phenomena “beyond the standard model” of particle physics such as supersymmetry, extra dimensions, and quark compositeness. The ATLAS detector will observe the particles emerging from the roughly 900 million proton-proton collisions per second and, although fast electronics will filter the events so that only those most likely to be of interest will be recorded, ATLAS will produce 3.5-5.0 petabytes of data per year (one petabyte is one million gigabytes). In addition, secondary data sets will be produced that could double the amount of data produced.

In order to analyze this enormous amount of information, CERN is coordinating an international network of large high-performance computing centres that are linked by “grid” tools so that they act as one huge system. This network is called  the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG). Canada has provided one of the world’s eleven Tier-1 centres (10 for ATLAS, one for CMS). The Canadian Tier-1 Data Centre, located at TRIUMF, will work with nine of the other ATLAS Tier-1 centres in the world to reprocess the raw data produced by the experiment. In addition, Tier-2 centres will be built in universities, both in Canada and abroad, to further process the results of the Tier-1 analysis and extract groundbreaking physics results from the data. The Tier-2 centres will also be the primary sites for computer simulations of ATLAS, which is an integral part of the data analysis.