When you have 9,000 scientists in 11 facilities around the world working on the largest particle physics experiment ever conducted, storage and network performance mean everything. And Force10, recently acquired by Dell, forms the core of the network that researchers rely on.
At CERN – the French acronym for the European Organization for Nuclear Research – sophisticated scientific instruments like the Large Hadron Collider are used to study the most basic components of matter.
“In the early universe, it was composed of the very, very most elemental building blocks of everything around us. As the universe has cooled, this has distilled out into galaxies and planets and ultimately into you and me. So what we try to do at CERN is to reverse that time,” David Foster, a network and communication systems group leader, said in a YouTube video.
Understandably, in its work, CERN generates a lot of data. How much data?
Try 15 petabytes of data per year.
And where there’s data in that volume, reliability and scalability are critical.
The collisions of matter’s fundamental particles take place at a rate of 40 million per second. Though researchers make use of online filters, CERN still requires extremely high-performance networks not just at the experiment site but also in the data center and infrastructure. Besides processing performance, CERN relies on the memory buffering to guard against the loss of data the experiments generate.
We’re moving an awful lot of data around, from storage to CPU and from CERN to other institutes around the world, and Force10 provides the backbone of that switching,” Foster said.