By Beth Pariseau, News Writer | Oct 10, 2008
Much is made in the enterprise data storage industry about the performance of disk systems over tape drives, but the managers of one data center that has reached the far limits of capacity say otherwise. Budget and performance demands forced them to build access protocols and data management tools for disk systems from scratch. High-end commercial tape drives, on the other hand, have largely met their requirements as one of the largest data producing facilities in the world.
The facility is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), owned by CERN, the world's largest physics laboratory, in Switzerland. The collider, which will be used for new, highly data-intensive experiments beginning in May 2008, is a tube large enough in diameter to drive a small car through. It accelerates particles around a 10-mile-wide circle formed by the tube underground, bringing them together at four set collision points in order to smash them apart. Even further down, 12-story-high caverns full of electronic detection equipment collect raw data on the collisions.
With the new project being launched next year, scientists hope they can use the collider to discover new subatomic particles, which in turn could help to explain fundamental mysteries of the universe.
"One particular theoretical particle that we're looking for is called the Higgs boson particle," said Francois Grey, head of IT at CERN. "It's the missing piece in a model known as the Standard Model that provides a coherent picture of our universe."
When fully operational, these new experiments will produce 15 petabytes (PB) of raw data annually. During each collision, the system produces high-resolution images in the hopes of capturing evidence of the elusive particle. From that, the data is pared down to about 1 PB of refined event summary data annually.