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Karlsruhe Grid computing centre is inaugurated

1 January 2003

The inauguration colloquium for the Grid Computing Centre Karlsruhe (GridKa) was held on 30 October at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK). FZK hosts the German Tier 1 centre for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments (ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb), as well as four other particle physics experiments (BaBar at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory, CDF and D0 at Fermilab, and COMPASS at CERN).

To cope with the computational requirements of the LHC experiments, a worldwide virtual computing centre is being developed – a global computational grid of tens of thousands of computers and storage devices. About one-third of the capacity will be at CERN, with the other two-thirds in regional computing centres spread across Europe, America and Asia. At the end of 2001, the German HEP community proposed FZK as the host of the German regional centre for LHC computing, and as the analysis centre for BaBar, CDF, D0 and COMPASS. FZK, a German national laboratory of similar size to CERN, accepted the challenge and established GridKa.

After just nine months a milestone has been reached – more than 300 processors and about 40 TByte of disk space are available for physicists from 41 research groups of 19 German institutes. The application software of the eight experiments, as well as grid middleware, has been installed. BaBar was the pilot user and is still the main customer. CDF and D0 have started to use GridKa for the analysis of Tevatron data. During the summer of 2002, ATLAS and ALICE used the centre for their worldwide distributed data challenges. The University of Karlsruhe CMS group uses the centre for analysis jobs.

On 29-30 October, the first GridKa users’ meeting was held. On the first day, more than 50 participants attended tutorials about grid computing, the Globus toolkit, software of the European DataGrid project, and the ALICE grid environment AliEn. The second day continued with presentations on GridKa and the status and plans of the experiments. An important contribution was a talk by CERN’s Ingo Augustin, who discussed the “European Data Grid: First Steps towards Global Computing”.

The highlight of the users’ meeting was the inauguration colloquium for GridKa, with almost 200 representatives from science, industry and politics. After an introduction by Reinhard Maschuw of FZK, there were talks about grid computing by Hermann Schunck of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Marcel Kunze of FZK, Tony Hey representing the UK e-Science Initiative, Siegfried Bethke of the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Michael Resch of the University of Stuttgart, Philippe Bricard of IBM France, and CERN’s Les Robertson. The central theme of all of the talks was the conviction that grid computing will be an important part of the computing infrastructure of the 21st century. The particle physics community will drive the first large-scale deployment of a worldwide grid, which will have a significant impact on future scientific and industrial applications.

For information about GridKa, see http://grid.fzk.de/grid/. For the LHC Grid Computing Project, see http://cern.ch/LCG/.

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