Jun 8, 2004
SweGrid gets set for future challenges
SweGrid, the first national Grid test-bed in Sweden, was inaugurated on 18 March in Uppsala. The Grid nodes, each consisting of a cluster of 100 PCs and 2 Tbyte of disk storage, are located at the six national computer centres in Umeå, Uppsala, Stockholm, Linköping, Göteborg and Lund, and are linked together through the 10 Gbit/s national network SUNET. An additional 60 Tbyte disk storage will be delivered in May and eventually the test-bed will comprise 120 Tbyte disk storage plus 120 Tbyte robotic tape storage in total.
The initiative for this national Grid has come from the Swedish high-energy physics community and was driven by the future requirements for large computing capacity to analyse data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). One-third of SweGrid's full computer resources are currently being used for the execution of the "ATLAS Data Challenge 2" in May and June 2004. In addition, many other applications in other branches of science, such as genome research, climate research, solid-state physics, quantum chemistry and space science, are also being launched on SweGrid.
The equipment for SweGrid has been financed by the Wallenberg Foundation in Sweden. The personnel costs for seven SweGrid technicians and three doctoral students are being covered by the Swedish Research Council through its Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC). The Strategic Technical Advisory Committee in SNIC, composed of the directors of Sweden's six national computer centres, is acting as SweGrid's executive board.
A Nordic Grid development project, NorduGrid, began in 2000 as a collaboration between high-energy physicists. It set up the first small Nordic Grid test-bed in 2001 and used this to develop the NorduGrid middleware, which has become one of the first Grid middlewares to be used in production internationally, as during the "ATLAS Data Challenge 1" in 2003.
Stimulated by this progress, the Nordic Science Research Councils (NOS-N) took a common initiative to study how the computer resources in the Nordic countries could be organized in a common Grid facility, called the Nordic Data Grid Facility (NDGF). SweGrid constitutes a Swedish contribution to this common effort. The NDGF study group is scheduled to forward a detailed proposal for such a facility to the NOS-N committee within a year from now.
Several interesting presentations were given at the SweGrid inauguration seminar. Mario Campolargo, head of the Information Society Research Infrastructure Unit of the European Commission, described the pan-European GEANT computer network and the potential this represents for Grid development in Europe. He also discussed the significance of the current European Grid development initiatives sponsored by the EC 6th Framework Programme, such as Enabling Grids for e-Science in Europe, a CERN-led initiative in which Sweden has an active role.
Erik Elmroth from the Swedish National Computer Center in Umeå discussed current activities for making Grid services more accessible, such as developing tools for resource brokering and Grid-wide accounting, and establishing Grid portals as common easy-to-use interfaces to the Grid. Niclas Andersson, the leader of the six technicians who have set up and are now running SweGrid, described the deployment and operations of the test-bed and presented its technical specifications.
John Ellis from CERN gave an overview of the physics at the LHC and illustrated the large computer resources required if the new physics phenomena were to be discovered at the LHC. He demonstrated that finding a heavy particle of mass 1 TeV/c2 at the LHC would be the equivalent of finding a needle in all of Sweden's haystacks, which he estimated to be 100 m3 each in volume and to total 100,000. Gilbert Poulard, also from CERN, described the reconstruction and analysis of events in ATLAS and how the software and access to data will be exercised with Grid tools during the forthcoming Data Challenge 2.
There were also reports on Grid applications in other disciplines. Gunnar Norstedt from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm described the use of SweGrid for the analysis of gene promoters; a gene promoter is a portion of DNA that regulates the genes and their expression. A general computer code for such analysis has been set up and will be made available at SweGrid through a Grid portal. Roland Lindh from the quantum chemistry group at Lund University described MOLCAS, which is a code for electronic structure calculations in large molecules and which will be accessible on SweGrid.
The final part of the ceremony was conducted by Anders Ynnerman, the leader of SNIC. After Janne Carlsson from the Wallenberg Foundation and Jan Martinsson from the Swedish Research Council had expressed their great satisfaction with the project, Sverker Holmgren, head of the Uppsala National Computer Center, gave a successful first demonstration of how to operate SweGrid.