In March more than 70 members of LCG-France gathered to discuss the progress of French involvement in the global Grid infrastructure to meet the computing needs of the Large Hadron Collider, CERN’s new particle accelerator, which is set to go online late this year. This meeting highlighted the challenging aspects of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (LCG) and the progress made during the last several months.

Many new members have recently joined LCG-France as part of the preparation for the LHC start-up. “The required data-processing capacity, the complexity of the installation and the management of the computing, as well as the effort needed to provide and operate a reliable platform for the experiments, have led to an important increase in the staff and in the number of French sites,” said Fairouz Malek, scientific manager for LCG-France.

To cope with the large amount of data the LHC will produce, the LCG is organized in a “tier” system. Several Tier-3 sites, which will carry out analysis but not data storage, have joined the ranks of LCG-France. Currently the project is made up of a Tier-1 site operated by the IN2P3 Computing Centre in Lyon (which will receive data directly from the Tier-0 site at CERN), three Tier-2 sites and four Tier-3 sites. Several sites in other countries work with the French Tier-1 site; among these are collaborators from China, Belgium, Japan and Romania.

The French sites support all four LHC physics experiments. They also provide computing resources for non-LHC experiments and projects, mainly through Enabling Grids for E-sciencE.

The French infrastructure of the LCG was successfully tested in 2006 during data transfer exercises. All the French sites contributed to the exercises and the goals of the exercises were all reached.

The French Tier-1 site, whose budget has risen noticeably, has to sort out problems with electric installation and air conditioning so that it can cope with the planned increase of its computing equipment. In spite of the difficulties faced, all measures have been taken to keep the Tier-1 operational while those improvements are made.

Finally, this meeting was also a chance for site representatives and members of the ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb physics experiments to exchange views and information, which helped strengthen links between the groups. The needs of the experiments, not only in terms of computing and data-storage capacity but also in terms of quality of service and bandwidth requirements, were clearly presented.

“The sites had the opportunity to hear about the particular needs of each experiment and to expose, in turn, their own constraints concerning the operations of the computing resources,” said Fabio Hernandez, technical manager of LCG-France and deputy director of the IN2P3 Computing Centre. “These exchanges will certainly allow us to further improve the service for the benefit of the experiments.”

Learn more by visiting the LCG-France website.

• This article was published in iSGTW on 9 May.