The worlds most powerful particle accelerator is called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and is located at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. It is installed in a 27-kilometer ring buried deep in the ground. High-energy protons traveling at 99.999999% of the speed of light in two counter-rotating beams are smashed together. This, in order to address the most fundamental questions of physics and advancing the understanding of the laws of nature.
The LHC produces about 15 Petabytes (15 million gigabytes) of data per year. All this data is not processed at one site alone but at about 150 computing centers around the globe that put together 250000 CPU cores, 160 Petabyte of disk storage and 90 Petabytes of tape storage at the time of writing. These distributed resources are combined in a ‘Grid’ infrastructure that allows more than 8000 physicists around the world to access and process this distributed data in a transparent way. These computing centers collaborate within the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) project. WLCG makes use of the EGI and OSG Grid infrastructures and Grid infrastructures from Asia.
The computing centers are organized in a multi-tiered setup, where CERN is the Tier0, eleven large computing centers in Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA and the Netherlands are the tier1 sites and the other sites are so-called Tier2 or Tier3 sites. SURFsara collaborates with Nikhef, the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics, in the Dutch Tier1 center. The Dutch contribution to the WLCG is funded by BiG Grid.