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Dell Helps CERN Be Future Ready and Push the Frontiers of Knowledge


I always enjoy surprising people when I tell them that the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) is what brought me to Texas. Particle physics is not my area of expertise no matter how many episodes of Big Bang Theory I’ve watched; but, ever since that graduate school co-op in the SSC’s library, I’ve had a personal interest in the field.

That’s why I’m always pleased to hear Dell has been helping power the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, for many years. After pushing the frontier of physics to the Higgs boson two years ago, the lab set out to take the world even further into the future, revamping and restarting the LHC earlier this month.

Dell customers visit CERN in June 2009 to discuss and share best practices for the optimization of high performance computing in research environments

(Above: We brought several Dell customers to CERN in June 2009 to discuss and share best practices for the optimization of high performance computing in research environments.)

In 2010, a Dell-led IT industry consortium began providing computing horsepower for CERN’s Atlas experiment, conducted at the LHC. Several Dell technology solutions play a part in making it all possible. One powerful one is our PowerEdge servers that CERN deploys in their high performance computing infrastructure which processes millions of gigabytes of data each year. Now that’s big data!

“Our physicists can study more events and in greater depth than ever before with our Dell servers. It has opened the door to greater understanding of what’s around us and why there’s life in the universe,” said Marc Dobson, applied physicist at CMS (system administrator), CERN.

Birthplace of the world wide web, CERN brings together more than 10,000 scientists in the world’s largest particle physics laboratory to explore the frontiers of our knowledge of the universe. To ensure that they can remain focused on their work, any possible issues with those servers are addressed quickly and efficiently with Dell ProSupport.

As they now head once again into unexplored territory, the researchers as CERN need ever more innovative technology. The LHC restarted with new, safer magnets, stronger connections, higher energy beams, higher voltage, a more secure vacuum, radiation-resistant electronics and more.

“After two years of effort, the LHC is in great shape,” said CERN Director for Accelerators and Technology, Frédérick Bordry. “But the most important step is still to come when we increase the energy of the beams to new record levels.”

To manage all the data that will produce, CERN needs to be what we’re calling “future-ready.” This type of long-term thinking takes discipline and an IT partner that is just as committed to the long view of end-to-end technology solutions.

“Our success in discovering the Higgs boson has been thanks to the dedication of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) researchers and the performance of our Dell HPC (high performance computing) environment. We hope to make further discoveries with the same combination of hard work and computing power,” said Attila Racz, CMS Data Acquisition Technical Coordinator at CERN.

So, while I might not have gotten the chance to boast that I worked where the “God particle” was discovered, I can still claim some bragging rights because Dell is playing a part in advancing our world’s understanding of the universe.

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