The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland, provides a massive facility for physicists around the world to investigate the origins of the universe. The world’s largest scientific research project produces roughly 25 petabytes (25 million gigabytes) of data annually for analysis through the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG).
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), Internet2, and US LHCNet, which provides transatlantic network connectivity from the LHC facility to the U.S. are moving the massive amounts of data to U.S. sites where scientists can analyze the information. These organizations have worked closely together to deploy networks and special projects, such as LHCONE, with the bandwidth and capabilities to reliably transport multiple streams of 10 Gigabits of data per second. The LHC is the first experiment to fully utilize the advanced capabilities of these networks, which connects DOE national laboratories and university researchers across the country to the LHC data.
Three high-performance exchange points, MAN LAN in New York City, WIX in Washington DC, and Starlight in Chicago, are some of the the U.S. entry points for LHC data. From there, ESnet delivers data from the LHC’s ATLAS experiment to The Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, New York where it is processed and stored. Meanwhile, data from the LHC’s CMS detector goes to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, for processing and storage. From these laboratories, ESnet and Internet2, together with its regional network partners, will distribute the data among 1700 U.S. scientists at 94 institutions throughout the country. This graphic, prepared in 2009, shows the breadth of LHC participation in the US:
This video (~12 mins.) explains the importance of cyberinfrastructure to supporting LHC: