A group of 10 Canadian universities has tapped an IBM supercomputer cluster to help store and analyze the huge amount of data expected when physicists from the CERN project in Switzerland turn on the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in 2008.
Researchers from these Canadian universities are all part of the Atlas project, which will use the raw information from the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) to study proton collisions in order to search for the Higgs particle, which has never been seen but whose existence could help better explain the fundamental nature of subatomic particles, such as why an electron has a negative charge and a proton has a positive charge.
In order to collect the data, the Canadian researchers and IBM will use an IBM System Cluster 1350 supercomputer, reconfigured with a DCS9550 Storage System, supporting up to 320 different hard disk configuration and a total of 160TB of physical storage. The IBM cluster is housed at TRUIMF, Canadas national laboratory for subatomic physics, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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IBM is one of the largest manufacturers of supercomputers in the world. As of June, 60 percent of the worlds supercomputers were IBM machines, including the Blue Gene/L system, the worlds fastest supercomputer, at the Department of Energys Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
IBM is trying to leverage its experience with supercomputers, used almost exclusively by research facilities, to create a demand for these machines among enterprises and even midmarket companies.
IBM is cutting prices on clusters and supercomputers and, along with other vendors, has begun using traditional x86 processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and operating systems such as Linux and Microsoft Windows in clusters to make the machines more manageable and appealing for the enterprise.
The IBM cluster in Vancouver will later be linked to a grid of other supercomputers used by researchers who are studying results from the CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) project. The first full experiments with the LHC are expected to begin in May 2008.
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