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Grid Iron: CERN Mixes 64-bit And 32-bit Servers

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research based in Geneva, Switzerland, and five IT companies said they have successfully linked 40 64-bit servers and the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid project, which involves over 60 major scientific computing centers in Europe, North America, and Asia.

The partners -- Enterasys Networks, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Oracle -- have also completed intensive testing of IBM's SAN File System to demonstrate scale-out capabilities of the new storage software.

With the addition of the HP servers, the partners have proven that the collider project, otherwise based on 32-bit processors, can be extended to a heterogeneous computing environment, said CERN. This is crucial for the future evolution of this grid, as it must grow rapidly in capacity and power to prepare for the tremendous data storage and analysis requirements of CERN's collider project.

The LHC is expected to produce some 15 petabytes of data per year after it is switched on in 2007. Thousands of physicists will sift through this data for years to come, analyzing it for tell-tale signs of new fundamental particles that will provide insights into the early origins of the universe.

The CERN openlab, a three-year industrial cooperation formally launched in January 2003, marked its halfway mark at the annual sponsors meeting on June 22, and has already tallied a number of technical results. Together, the partners have built the CERN opencluster, a system for testing prototype grid applications of increasing power and functionality. The partnership places an emphasis on a common development program for data-intensive grid computing based on open standards. This includes a 28-terabyte high-end storage system and storage management software, supplied by IBM, switching and routing equipment from Enterasys, and Oracle Database 10g.

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