How GÉANT is helping CERN unlock the secrets of our universe

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How GÉANT is helping CERN unlock the secrets of our universe

In 2008, when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN began smashing protons together, the world held its breath.
As scientists prepared to recreate the big bang in a 17-mile tunnel beneath the French-Swiss border—it was the stuff of science fiction.
Yet the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator is a very real attempt to understand the universe. And its home to some of the most important physics experiments of our time.

But just as an F1 car cannot race without high-performance fuel, the LHC cannot mobilise these experiments without the right partner.  Read on to discover how GÉANT is helping scientists unlock nature’s biggest secrets.

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With great power, comes great amounts of data

As you might imagine, the computational, storage and networking challenges involved in a project like this are colossal. Processing the data generated by 100-200 events each second relies not only on a community of 13,000 scientists – at 170 computing centres in 100 countries – but also vast storage for permanent archiving of this valuable data. CERN’s Data Centre in Switzerland passed the milestone of 200 petabytes of permanently archived data in 2017, with the Wigner Data Centre in Hungary operating since 2012 as an extension of CERN’s DC.

Not your average broadband connection

The only way to transport this ocean of data is via dedicated high-capacity bandwidth.
This is provided by the GÉANT network, an almighty backbone criss-crossing Europe like an invisible spider’s web; equipping science and research with ultra-reliable internet connectivity.
Constantly exploring what’s possible in networking technology, GÉANT delivers tailor-made solutions that set global standards for scientific research.
Plus, many of the advanced technologies GÉANT builds for projects like the LHC, go on to shape the internet you’re using to read this—making it safer, smarter and more convenient.

How do you connect that many scientists and process that much data?

With 80% of the LHC data processed outside of CERN, a rather special computing solution was needed: the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG), an enormous collaborative effort shared between GÉANT and its European NREN and international partners.

Together, this world-wide community provides immense computing power, taking the brunt of some serious traffic. In fact, the LHCONE (LHC Open Networking Environment) regularly sees peaks in excess of 60Gbps. The Wigner Data Centre in Hungary is also connected by three 100Gbps links provided by GÉANT and the NRENs.

Beyond data transfer

As an organisation devoted to research and education, GÉANT’s support to CERN goes far beyond data transfer.
A dedicated Research Engagement team works closely with CERN to share and tackle the research challenges of today and tomorrow.

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Why is this project important?

The discovery of new particles could reshape science and technology as we know it.
Think of it like sea or space exploration. The deeper and further we travel, the more chance we have of making earth-shaking discoveries.
So although we can’t pinpoint what kind of breakthroughs will arise from the LHC, every milestone—like the discovery of the Higgs Boson—takes us closer to potential leaps in advancing the human race.

What does GÉANT offer?

2 Exabytes* a year is already carried at high speed and low latency

* (That’s 2 BILLION Gigabytes!)

Federating services and architecture plus eduroam, the worldwide wi-fi roaming service

Europe-wide procurement frameworks for tailored, market leading cloud offerings

40+ NRENs, extensive partnerships, programmes, workshops, task forces and events

The research GÉANT enables touches almost every aspect of our lives. Not only that, but its networking technology is shaping the internet of tomorrow.

Find out more on the

GÉANT website

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