Large Hadron Collider grid stress-tested

The tests, which were deemed a success, threw huge amounts of data at the grid that will process information from the collider.

Tom Espiner Special to CNET News
2 min read

The grid that will process data from the Large Hadron Collider has undergone stress-testing, as CERN and other groups try to gauge its limits.

The tests, called Scale Testing for the Experiment Program '09, threw huge amounts of data around the distributed computing project, which uses dedicated optical-fiber networks to distribute data from CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) to 11 main computer centers in Europe, Asia, and North America.

From these centers, data is dispatched to over 140 centers in 33 countries around the globe, where the LHC data is managed and processed. The recent grid tests, which lasted for two weeks, were completed before the beginning of July.

Images: Where particles, physics theories collide
Click image for gallery on the Large Hadron Collider. Maximilien Brice for CERN

LHC computing-grid project leader Ian Bird said Friday that CERN had tried to break the grid but had not succeeded.

"People were trying to break the system by seeing how much data we could push through it, but we didn't (break it)," Bird told ZDNet UK. "The test was successful."

Data from all the experiments running at CERN--including analyses from the Atlas particle accelerator, which is linked to the LHC--were processed through the grid, according to Bird. While the amount of data expected from the LHC will be in the area of 1.3GB per second, the grid systems were bombarded with 4GB per second. "The data volume got to a much larger scale than is needed," Bird said.

CERN plans to restart the LHC in October, following an incident last September that halted the experiment. A fault, caused by imperfect welding, led to a leak of liquid helium that caused damage when it heated and expanded.

At present, the LHC itself is not generating any data, as no experiments are being conducted, Bird said. However, the experiment was gathering data from cosmic rays hitting the experiment until testing of the machine stopped the collection. This data is due to be collected again "in a few weeks," Bird added.

Bird did not rule out a further major test of the computing grid before the LHC's October restart, as some parts of the grid had been offline during the testing due to scheduled downtime.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.