'Maiden flight' for world's biggest grid

Hits transfer speed of 1GB per second...

Hits transfer speed of 1GB per second...

UK physicists have taken part in the latest test of an international scientific computing grid under working conditions.

During the week-long challenge, the LHC Computing Grid sustained transfer rates of a gigabyte per second, which the developers are claiming as a "world first" for a permanent, international grid using scientific data.

The LHC Computing Grid will be used to manage the data deluge from Cern's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). When it starts in 2007 the LHC will probe the physics of the Universe at the earliest moments after the Big Bang - and in the process produce 15 million gigabytes of data per year.

The data was transferred from Cern in Geneva, Switzerland to 12 computer centres around the globe. CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire represented the UK, receiving data from Cern at nearly 200Mbps via the UKLight network.

Click here for photos from silicon.com's visit to RAL.

More than 20 other computing facilities worldwide, including those at the UK's Universities of Edinburgh, Lancaster and Imperial College London, were also involved in successful tests of a global grid service for real-time storage, distribution and analysis of this data.

The scientists said the results of this challenge are a "significant step forward" compared to a previous service challenge in early 2005 that involved just seven centres and data rates of 600Mbps.

Cern chief scientific officer Jos Engelen said in a statement: "This latest service challenge was the equivalent of a maiden flight for LHC computing. For the first time, several sites in Asia were also involved in this service challenge, making it truly global in scope."