LHC Computing Grid Goes Online

The world's particle physics community today announced the launch of the first phase of the LHC computing Grid (LCG). The LCG is designed to handle the unprecedented quantities of data that will be produced by experiments at CERN1's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from 2007 onwards.

"The LCG will provide a vital test-bed for the new Grid computing technologies that are set to revolutionise the way scientists use the world's computing resources in areas ranging from fundamental research to medical diagnosis," said Les Robertson, CERN's LCG project manager.

The computational requirements of the experiments that will operate at the LHC are enormous. Some 12-14 petabytes of data will be generated each year, the equivalent of more than 20 million CDs. Analysing this data will require the equivalent of 70,000 of today's fastest PC computers. The LCG will meet these needs by deploying a worldwide computational Grid, integrating the resources of scientific computing centres spread across Europe, America and Asia into a global virtual computing service.

The first phase of the project, LCG-1, will operate a series of prototype services, gradually increasing in scale and complexity as its builders develop an understanding of the functional and operational complexities involved in building a Grid of such unprecedented scale. LCG-1 uses so-called 'middleware' developed mainly by the European Data Grid project in Europe and the Globus, Condor and related projects contributing to the Virtual Data Toolkit in the US. It allows physicists to access worldwide distributed computing resources from their desktops as if they were local.

"The Grid enables us to harness the power of scientific computing centres wherever they may be to provide the most powerful computing resource the world has to offer," said Ian Bird, head of Grid deployment at CERN.

Fermilab physicist Lothar Bauerdick, project manager of software and computing for USCMS, the collaboration of US scientists working on the CMS experiment at the LHC, stressed the need for collaboration among the world's developing Grid efforts: "Because of the worldwide reach of the experiments, the LHC provides a great opportunity for the world's scientists to work together on a common global Grid."

The LCG-1 system determines what resources and data a computing job requires, arranges for the job to run anywhere in the world that can provide those resources, locates and moves the data files required and produced by the job, and eventually returns the results to the physicist.

"LCG-1 is a significant step toward the full-scale computing environment required by the world-wide collaborations of scientists on the LHC," said John Huth, Harvard professor and project manager of software and computing for the collaboration of US scientists working on the ATLAS experiment. Partner institutions at this stage include CERN and major distributed computing facilities coordinated through the University of Prague in the Czech Republic, the IN2P3 Computer Centre in Lyon, France, the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in Germany, the KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics in Budapest, Hungary, the Istituto Nazionale de Fisica Nucleare with its National Computer Centre in Bologna, Italy, the University of Tokyo in Japan, ACC Cyfronet, Cracow, Poland, Moscow State University and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia, the Port d'Informació Científica in Barcelona, Spain, the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. In the US, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation support participation in LCG-1 through a collaboration of universities and laboratories including the DOE's Fermilab and Brookhaven National Laboratories. Together, these institutions provide a truly world-wide service.

"We are very excited about the LCG launch. It is an essential step towards allowing the successful analysis of future LHC data, which are likely to dramatically change our vision of the universe. It is also a major milestone in the development of the new Grid technology, which will bring large benefits to all fields of sciences," said Guy Wormser, IN2P3 Deputy Director and French representative on the LCG Overview Board. "We are therefore very proud to be active partners in this endeavour. Large human and material resources, both in CERN and in France, are committed to this project."

"In a world where a vast amount of digital data is produced every day by all sort of instruments, such as particle physics experiments, digital medical scanners, earth observation satellites, genomic data and digital libraries," said Italian physicist Mirco Mazzucato, head of the INFN-Grid project and Chairman of LCG Grid Deployment Board,"the Grid provides the powerful infrastructure that enables the transformation of these millions of Gigabytes into the small pieces of knowledge that allow modern societies to progress."

"We are very excited to be able to participate in such a revolutionary global collaboration," said Dr. Simon C. Lin, Director of the Academia Sinica Computing Centre in Taiwan."We are making direct contributions to LCG as one of its major sites and Grid Operation Centres in Asia. Apart from the Global Grid deployment, we also participate in the development work such as Data Management, Technology Direction, Certification and Testing, as well as Application Software. Based on the experience of LCG, Grid technology will extend to fields like bioinformatics, digital archive and biodiversity informatics, and pave a solid platform for future research needs."

Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council said: "PPARC has strongly supported the LCG project both at CERN and in the United Kingdom. The technology now being deployed for particle physics will ultimately change the way that science and business are undertaken in the years to come. This will have a profound effect on the way society uses information technology, much as the World Wide Web did."

John Gordon, the Deputy Director of CCLRC's eScience Centre said: "Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is pleased to be in the vanguard of this Grid. The next step will be to include the other sites already testing the Grid in the UK GridPP and Core grid testbeds so that they can all take an active part in LHC computing."

During the remainder of 2003 LCG-1 will expand to include many computer centres in 16 countries, while maintaining a reliable operational environment. This expansion will integrate the resources needed in 2004 for the first of many analysis data challenges that will test the ability of the Grid to handle the increasingly complex workload of computing and data management required in the build up for LHC.

"The establishment and operation of LCG-1 will provide vital experience and input for other demanding applications in science and industry,"  said Ian Foster of the US Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago and leader of the Globus Alliance.

Over the next few years, scientists expect the LCG service to form the core of the multi-science grid that will be developed in Europe by the Enabling Grids for E-science and industry in Europe (EGEE) project funded under the 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission. Similarly, in the US, scientists plan the Open Science Grid to provide services for LCG as well as offering opportunities for other demanding applications in science and science education.

Notes for editors

CERN is the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, one of the world's most prestigious centres for fundamental research. The laboratory is currently building the Large Hadron Collider. The most ambitious scientific undertaking the world has yet seen, the LHC will collide tiny fragments of matter head on to unravel the fundamental laws of nature. It is due to switch on in 2007 and will be used to answer some of the most fundamental questions of science by some 7,000 scientists from universities and laboratories all around the world.

The IN2P3 is the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics of the CNRS (National Center of Scientific Research), the largest research organisation in Europe. IN2P3 devotes itself to research in the physics of the infinitely small, from the atomic nucleus down to the elementary particles, and of the physics of the infinitely large, to study the composition and evolution of the Universe. The objectives are to determine matter's most elementary constituents and understand their interactions, and to understand the structure and properties of nuclei. It participates to the four big experiments, which are going to take place at the LHC of the CERN (Atlas, CMS, Alice and LHCb). In the field of data processing, IN2P3 is one of the leaders of the French Grid effort and is deeply involved in the European Computation grid projects aimed at optimum use of powerful, distributed computing facilities.

Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe is one of the biggest science and engineering research institutions in Europe and funded jointly by the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Its research and development program is embedded in the programme structure of the Hermann von Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres and concentrates on the five research areas of Structure of Matter, Earth and Environment, Health, Energy, and Key Technologies.

KFKI RMKI is the KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Institute Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Its mission is to ensure Hungarian participation in research at CERN on particle and heavy ion physics. Researchers from the institute are actively working in the planned LHC experiments, CMS and ALICE, and on the grid project for LHC computing. KFKI RMKI has installed already one of the first nodes for LCG, comprising 50 processors and about 2TB disc capacity.

The National Institute for Nuclear Physics is the Italian research institute that promotes, coordinates and carries out research in nuclear, subnuclear and astroparticle Physics. INFN has in Italy about thirty sections and connected groups, both with a university seat, and four big laboratories. Moreover INFN researchers play a remarkable role in the most important international projects for research in nuclear Physics and particle Physics. Particularly, the most ambitious challenge the Institute is going to face next years is the cooperation to the construction of the accelerator LHC at CERN in Geneva.

The International Centre for Elementary Particle Physics, at the University of Tokyo, was established to promote international collaboration in the field of particle physics in Japan. It is now acting as the central facility for LHC data analysis in Japan.

The Academic Computer Centre CYFRONET, established over 30 years ago, is part of the University of Science and Technology in Cracow, Poland. CYFRONET has greatly contributed to progress in computer science. For many years the only regional academic computer centre in Poland, it has become a large supercomputer and networking centre that plays an important role in development of computer science and supports activities in many branches of basic and applied research.

The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) - an international intergovernmental organization - was established through the Convention signed on 26 March 1956 by the founding Member States with the aim of uniting their efforts, scientific and material potentials for investigations of the fundamental properties of matter. The Institute bases its activities on the principles of openness for participation to all interested states, of their equal and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The Port d'Informació Científica (PIC) is a centre of scientific-technological competence, created to support scientific communities in projects that involve data analysis in collaborative or extreme difficulty environments. The PIC is responsible for developing Grid in Catalonia and coordinates the Spanish LHC Computing Grid (LHC-ES). The centre was founded in October 2002 through an agreement among the Ministry of Universities, Research and Information Society (DURSI) of the Catalan Government, the "Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona" (UAB) and the "Institut de Física d'Altes Energies" (IFAE). In May 2003, the "Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas" (CIEMAT) joined the agreement. The PIC is settled in the UAB campus, close to the city of Barcelona.

Academia Sinica is the most prominent academic institution in Taiwan. Its major mission is to undertake in-depth academic research on various subjects in the sciences and humanities, and to provide guidelines, channels of coordination, and encouragement with a view to raise academic standards in Taiwan. Grid technology will provide the most viable solution for the next generation IT infrastructure in Academia Sinica.

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK's strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science - particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science. PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility.

The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire is one of three laboratories operated by the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC). It is an open, multi-disciplinary laboratory that runs large facilities including the world-leading ISIS neutron source for materials research. It also has strong scientific teams working on high-powered lasers, astronomy, Earth observation, and computing as well as particle physics. The Diamond facility, which will be operated by Diamond Light Source Ltd, is currently being constructed on the RAL site. Diamond is a synchrotron light source which will be used by UK scientists to study the molecular and atomic structure of a range of materials - particularly those in the life sciences.

The US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory will serve as so-called “Tier One” centres for LHC computing, supporting data analysis for US collaborators on LHC experiments.

The European DataGrid project is funded by European Union. Its objective is to build the next generation computing infrastructure providing intensive computation and analysis of shared large-scale databases, from hundreds of TeraBytes to PetaBytes, across widely distributed scientific communities.

The Virtual Data Toolkit (VDT) is a set of software that supports the needs of the research groups and experiments involved in the US Grid Physics Network (GriPhyN) and other projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. VDT includes the Globus toolkit and components from the Condor Project.

The vision of the EGEE Integrated Infrastructure Initiative (EGEE) is to create and deploy Grid technologies to enable the widespread uptake of e-Science applications throughout the European Research Area. See

The Open Science Grid provides a roadmap for the U.S. to build a national grid infrastructure for science, starting with the LHC.


CERN: Renilde Vanden Broeck +41 (0)22 767 2141;
Czech Republic: Milos Lokajicek, responsible for LHC computing +420 266 052 672;
IN2P3, France: Dominique Armand + 33 (0) 1 44 96 47 51;
Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe: Joachim Hoffman +49 (0)7247 82-2860;
Hungary: Jeki Laszlo + 36 1 392 2222; jeki@rmki.kfki.hu
INFN: Barbara Gallavotti +39 (0)6 6868162; +39 (0)6 68400308;
Japan: Hiroshi Sakamoto +81-3-3815-8384;
Poland: Aleksander Kusznir +48 1263 41766;
Russia: Moscow State University; Evgeniya Zaitseva +7 095 939-36-67;
      JINR; Tatyana Zhabitskaya +7 096 216-58-34;
Spain: Martí Estruch +34 (0) 93 306 54 45;
Taiwan: Stella Shen +886 2 2782 6432;
UK PPARC: Julia Maddock +44 (0) 1793 442094;
UK CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory: Jacky Hutchinson; + 44 (0) 1235 44 6482;
USA Fermilab: Judy Jackson +1 630 840 4112;
USA Brookhaven: Mona S. Rowe +1 631 344 5056


1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.

You are here