CERN's LHC datacentre prepares for network speed boost

CERN is expanding its Budapest datacentre operation with a new terabit connection to help it process and store data from the Large Hadron Collider.

CERN is expanding its datacentre facilities to Budapest in an effort to handle the vast amount of information generated by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) more efficiently.

From January 2013, CERN will use pan-European network provider Géant's new terabit network to link the remote datacentre in the Wigner Research Centre for Physics to the LHC. The research centre will be responsible for processing and storing some of the 30 petabytes of physics data the LHC produces every year. 

"We quickly excluded the possibility of using cloud because it's too expensive and would be prohibitive with the amount of data we are transporting," said Frédéric Hemmer, head of the IT Department at CERN told ZDNet. 

The data will be transferred over high speed links of 100Gbps provided by Géant and the National Research and Education Network (NREN). While links of this speed exist in the US, Hemmer explained this is the first international 100Gbps link.

Michael Enrico, CTO of Dante (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe), the Cambridge-based network operations centre that has built and operates the Géant's network said the amount of data that CERN will be able to transfer each day over the link equates to 21,000 HD blu-ray movies. However, Hemmer said the amount of data transferred will depend on the capabilities achievable when the link goes live. 

The Budapest sitewill act as an extension to CERN's existing datacentre as well as providing business continuity in case of any issues that could affect on-going service.

"Having a second datacentre allows us to have business continuity," said Hemmer. "Should one of the datacentres fail the other the other would take over."

While CERN's project is the first one to utilise Europe's new terabit network, others are expected to follow shortly, according to Enrico. 

"The driving force behind this is the growth of international research collaboration with projects in areas such as astronomy and high energy physics looking to exchange larger and larger amounts of data in real-time around Europe and beyond," he said. 


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