Renowned scientific research institute GSI utilizes Foundry to power particle accelerator HPC network

Darmstadt 10 December 2008The German-based Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) selected Foundry Networks Inc.'s high-performance computing (HPC) networking solution for its uncompromised performance, efficiency and value. Foundry's 10 gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) switching solution for the GSI's particle accelerator network and facility allows wire-speed handling of the enormous volume of data resulting from experiments with the GSI's own revolutionary particle accelerator and with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva.


Established in 1969, the goal of the scientific research conducted at the GSI is to understand the structure and behaviour of the world that surrounds us. The GSI operates a world-leading accelerator facility for heavy-ion beams, used for fundamental research. At the GSI, over 300 scientific researchers and engineers and more than 1000 guest researchers per year, from around the world, conduct research into areas ranging from nuclear and atomic physics to plasma and materials research as well as biophysics and cancer therapy.

By leveraging Foundry's performance-focused switches, the GSI is able to efficiently transport and process data from the collisions of subatomic particles on about 2500 processing cores with computing power of 20 teraflops. The input and results data are stored on about 70 servers with a capacity of 700 terabytes.

The GSI decided on Foundry's high-performance networking solution to ensure congestion-free communication for its large group of computing and data nodes. Foundry's BigIron RX-32 Layer 2/3 backbone switch was capable of fulfilling these extreme switching capacity demands through industry-leading port density. The switch delivers maximum flexibility and throughput, with up to 1536 ports of GbE or 128-ports of 10GbE in a single chassis at wire-speed. The research institute is also extending its existing HPC network with Foundry's FastIron Edge X and FastIron SuperX/SX Layer 2/3 switches while expanding several links to 10 gigabit Ethernet.

With the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the GSI is leading the scientific programme concerning heavy ion experiment known as 'A Large Ion Collider Experiment' (ALICE). To cope with the large quantities of data produced by this programme, the GSI participated in the construction of the World Wide Grid, an evolution of the World Wide Web. The GSI's data centre is an established part of the Grid for analysing data from ALICE. GSI staff expects that data volumes will reach approximately two million gigabytes per year, or the equivalent of about 3 million CDs.

"GSI is a high-technology institution that puts extremely challenging demands on its network", stated Dr. Mathias Munch, responsible for the IT infrastructure at the GSI. "Foundry Networks' advanced switching technology is able to meet our unique performance needs. We've also been very satisfied with the support services provided by Foundry Networks and our system integrator Pan Dacom."

"We are pleased that the GSI has selected Foundry's incomparable industry-leading HPC solution to help advance important particle research", stated Ken Cheng, vice president and general manager of Foundry's High-End and Service Provider Systems Business Unit. "The solution's unprecedented density, scalability and wire-speed capabilities will help maximize the power of the HPC network while allowing class-leading total cost of ownership and energy and space efficiency."

The Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt is a centre for fundamental research and is financed by the German state and the Land of Hessen. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association. The mission of the 1050 staff is to construct and operate accelerator facilities as well as conduct research on heavy ions. Every year, more than 1000 guest scientists come to the GSI, which gives them access to its research facilities. GSI operates a large, in many aspects worldwide unique accelerator facility for heavy-ion beams.

The research programme at GSI covers a broad range of activities extending from nuclear and atomic physics to plasma and materials research to biophysics and cancer therapy. Probably the best-known results are the discovery of six new chemical elements and the development of a new type of tumour therapy using ion beams. With these and multiple other results, GSI has a leading position internationally in ion beam research. GSI physicists, together with scientists from universities and research institutes in Germany and abroad, are building a new international accelerator Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR), planned for completion in 2015. A broad spectrum of scientific areas will be addressed at the new facility, including hitherto unsolved questions about the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe.

Foundry Networks Inc. is a provider of high-performance enterprise and service provider switching, routing, security and web traffic management solutions, including Layer 2/3 LAN switches, Layer 3 Backbone switches, Layer 4-7 application switches, wireless LAN and access points, metro and core routers. Foundry's customers include the world's premier ISPs, metro service providers, and enterprises, including e-commerce sites, universities, entertainment, health and wellness, government, financial and manufacturing companies.

Source: Foundry Networks

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