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iSGTW Feature - Introducing TRIUMF: Canada's Tier-1 on the worldwide grid

Feature - Introducing TRIUMF: Canada's Tier-1 on the worldwide grid

Lead system administrator Denice Deatrich and networking administrator Chris Payne examining the dCache servers at the TRIUMF Tier-1 center.
Image courtesy of TRIUMF

When the Large Hadron Collider starts up at CERN in 2008, the world will be waiting to receive the data it produces. In Canada, researchers will be looking to TRIUMF, Canada's particle and nuclear physics national laboratory.

TRIUMF is host to one of eleven Tier-1 centers, forming an integral part of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid collaboration and supporting the particle detector experiment, ATLAS, one of the LHC-powered experiments.

With its experience supplying 24/7 service to international collaborations, TRIUMF provides the facilities required for the large-scale, data-intensive analysis that LHC data will require, while attracting expertise in the operation of the facilities as well as for user-support.

High-density, liquid-cooled

Uniquely, TRIUMF's Tier-1 center is relatively small, occupying about 100m2. Due to the limited space available, TRIUMF thus makes notable use of high-density computing and storage hardware.

TRIUMF ATLAS team members Isabel Trigger and Rèda Tafirout with one of the control stations for the TRIUMF Tier-1.
Image courtesy of TRIUMF

This high density had led to the need for a state-of-the-art cooling solution, which uses liquid-cooled inline air conditioning units. Current estimates are that power consumption will be close to 0.5 megawatts by 2011.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding of the WLCG collaboration, a Tier-1 center is required to be available at least 98 percent of the time during LHC operations. TRIUMF averaged 95 percent of uptime for the latter half of 2007, ranking near the top of the eleven Tier-1 centers for this metric.

Computing across Canada

Universities across Canada will collectively form two federated Tier-2 centers: one in the east and one in the west. To accommodate the continuous flow of data, dedicated 1Gbit/s links were created between Tier-2 sites at the University of Victoria, the University of Toronto and McGill University; Simon Fraser University and the University of Alberta currently use 1Gbit/s WestGrid links.

The Tier-1 center has been running very well since a significant expansion in August, 2007. Further expansion will occur each year as ATLAS collects more data. The ATLAS experiment is scheduled to begin sometime this year.

- Sandra Fleming, TRIUMF

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