Chile and CERN communicating closely

Even if you are a researcher living in the most southern country in the world, you can still be an important participant in groundbreaking global research. As an example, the Science and Technology Center of Valparaíso (CCTVal) based at the Technical University Federico Santa María (UTFSM) in Chile is part of international initiatives of great importance such as the ATLAS project at CERN in Switzerland. In addition, the Center collaborates with world-class centers such as NASA, the Jefferson Laboratory and the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US.

The need for high-speed connectivity 

“Since 2008 a group of physicists from CCTVal has participated in the ATLAS experiment, which in collaboration with the CMS project discovered the Higgs boson. Our cluster assists in the processing of their data. For all of this, we require not only very fast computing, but also high-speed connectivity to CERN, to transfer the data over here, process it and send the results back,” explains Yuri Ivanov, Doctor of Physics and researcher at CCTVal.

“ATLAS produces about a petabyte of data every six months, which equals one thousand terabyte disks. The data cannot be processed in a single data center, so it is necessary to distribute it among 300 organizations, each one with its own cluster. This Grid computing system includes colleges and universities from around the world,” added Ivanov.

Tier-2 certification

In order to participate in this project, CCTVal had to go through a rigorous evaluation process after which CERN awarded its cluster with the “Tier-2” certification. CCTVal was the first center in Latin America to obtain this classification.

The Tier-2 category is related to the storage and processing capabilities of so-called information resource centers of the LHC Computing Grid (LCG). In this network, CERN has the Tier-0 classification, where the initial processing of the data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is performed. After the processing of the data, the information is distributed to several Tier-1 centers that allow the access to Tier-2 data centers.

The CCTVal has currently 700 nucleons (cores) assigned to its cluster for data and research analysis in medicine, astronomy, biology, finance, education, and oceanography, among others.

Hundreds of tasks

“In total we have over 200 local users and about 50 other Chilean universities that use our services. At any given time, our cluster is processing between 300 and 400 tasks required by researchers,” explains Dr. Ivanov.

All these computing resources could not be maximized without the adequate network capacity.

“I do not think it would be possible to meet all the requirements of CERN effectively and safely without REUNA. For us, REUNA is a very valuable partner. And besides, it is recognized by the (IGTF) international Grid system, as the only accredited entity in Chile to deliver Grid certificates.”

Currently, the CCTVal is connected to the backbone of REUNA and from there to the international academic networks.

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ATLAS experiment

Published: 05/2017

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