The Power to Probe the Secrets of the Universe

Understanding our universe

Particle physicists study subatomic particles such as quarks, electrons and neutrinos that serve as the building blocks of our universe. Understanding the structure and interactions among elementary particles and fields — at the smallest distance scale and highest attainable energy — can help unlock the secrets of the universe.

For many years, the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) has conducted research into the universe’s elemental building blocks, their mutual forces and the structure of space and time. Nikhef’s work involving the Hadron Collider at the CERN accelerator complex in Geneva, Switzerland, helped confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, one of the particles thought to play a key role in all physical forces.

Not surprisingly, exceptional computing power and data analysis capacity and speed are essential for Nikhef.

“Every year, we receive dozens of petabytes of raw data from various scientific research institutes,” explains Tristan Suerink, IT architect at Nikhef. “It’s only through many calculations that we can understand the data. All of these must be processed and shared with thousands of researchers around the world.”

Never-ending need for power

None of the interactions Nikhef studies are visible to the naked eye. The work is almost incomprehensible to anyone outside of physics. To accomplish its mission, Nikhef’s scientists constantly need more high-performance computing (HPC) power to process the exponential increases in raw data.

Today, the organization processes 10 petabytes of raw data annually. By 2020, that will double — and it will multiply 5x by 2025.

“We are always looking for as much computing power as possible for our budget. Memory, network, calculation capacity and storage are the most important for us.”

— Tristan Suerink, IT Architect, Nikhef

To meet its requirements, Nikhef recently expanded its IT infrastructure with 93 Dell EMC PowerEdge R6415 servers, featuring AMD EPYC™ 7551P processors.

“The design of the Dell EMC PowerEdge R6415 met both of our selection criteria: CPU performance and the high I/O bandwidth available,” notes Suerink. “Moreover, we want CPUs and servers that guarantee four years of solid performance with full deployment.”

Greater processing efficiency

Because Nikhef’s work is so critical, the organization extensively tested demo units of the PowerEdge servers before putting them into production. A single server running on the EPYC architecture and 32 cores offered the best price-performance ratio — essential for an organization that’s trying to maximize the value of every euro spent.

By choosing a single-socket design, Nikhef ensured that the servers’ entire processing capacity could be tapped for data analysis. This makes the solution 20 percent more efficient than any dual-socket system.

“More effective computing power with Dell EMC means that scientists can analyze data more quickly and ultimately do more research.”

— Tristan Suerink, IT Architect, Nikhef

Increased returns fund more research

Particle physics is reshaping the way we view our universe. In addition, it’s had a far-reaching impact on other fields ranging from medicine and computing to sophisticated security applications such as advanced scanning techniques and nuclear inspection and oversight.

As a research organization, funding for Nikhef is constantly a challenge. With Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, Nikhef is maximizing its return on investment.

“Our Dell EMC servers are reliable, so users can work longer and do more calculations. It’s the reliability, uptime and quality of delivery that are important to us.”

— Tristan Suerink, IT Architect, Nikhef

Read the case study to learn more about Nikhef’s Dell EMC implementation. For additional information about PowerEdge servers, visit Join the conversation on Twitter @DellEMCservers.

About the Author: Nettie Olsen

Nettie Olsen is a Dell EMC customer advocate with over 20 years in the technology and telecom industry. She is passionate about new technology, sharing customers’ IT transformation stories, and understanding their expectations and goals. She is currently building the global Customer Success program as part of the Server Product Marketing team, and loves the passion around customer advocacy found at Dell EMC from all areas of the organization. She has an MBA from Thunderbird School of International Management and lives in the Dallas/Ft Worth area with her husband and dog. In her spare time, she attempts to learn the art of dressage.