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CERN openlab kicks off 2018 with technical workshop

Fri, 12/01/2018 - 15:52
Friday, 12 January, 2018

CERN openlab held its annual technical workshop on 11 and 12 January 2018. The event saw representatives of the CERN openlab collaborating companies and organisations gather in the CERN Council Chamber; it featured presentations and posters highlighting the progress made by the CERN openlab projects active over the last year.

With 2018 marking the start of CERN openlab’s sixth three-year phase, the second day of the workshop was dedicated to discussing future ICT challenges. These were grouped into three topics: (i) data-centre technologies and infrastructure, (ii) computing performance and software, and (iii) machine learning and data analytics. These topics were first set out in the white paper CERN openlab published on ‘Future ICT Challenges in Scientific Research’ in September 2017. The ICT challenges identified within these topics underpin progress in several fields of scientific research and will help shape CERN openlab’s future work.

“Our annual technical workshop is always a great opportunity for bringing together all of the people working on CERN openlab projects — including our collaborators from industry — with representatives of the LHC experiments, says Maria Girone,” CERN openlab CTO. “We’re looking forward to an exciting year of collaboration ahead of us, working together to conduct joint R&D and tackling the cutting-edge ICT challenges posed by the LHC’s ambitious upgrade programme.”

If you missed the workshop and would like to find out more, please visit the event’s Indico page. Here you can find slides of the presentations given at the event, participant details, and more. The CERN openlab annual report, with an overview of all progress made in the 16 projects active in 2017, will be made available on our website in the coming months.

Applications now open for CERN openlab Summer Student Programme 2018

Tue, 05/12/2017 - 17:42
Tuesday, 5 December, 2017

Applications for the 2018 CERN openlab Summer Student Programme are now open. Apply and open a world of possibilities!

By joining the programme, you will work on ambitious IT projects using some of the latest hardware and software technologies, and see how advanced IT solutions are used in high-energy physics. In addition, you will have the opportunity to attend a series of lectures developed for the CERN openlab summer students, given by IT experts on advanced CERN-related topics. Included in the programme are also visits(link is external) at the CERN facilities and experiments, as well as other research laboratories and companies.

The CERN openlab Summer Student Programme is much more than just a summer at CERN. It can lead to follow-on projects in your home institute. It may even inspire you to become an entrepreneur in cutting-edge computing technologies!

More details on the CERN openlab Summer Student Programme are available here.

Apply now on the 'Careers at CERN' website. The deadline for submitting applications is 19 February, 2018 (23:59 CET).

Fermilab joins CERN openlab, works on ‘data reduction’ project with CMS experiment

Wed, 22/11/2017 - 12:50
Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Fermilab, the USA’s premier particle physics and accelerator laboratory, has joined CERN openlab as a research member. Researchers from the laboratory will collaborate with members of the CMS experiment and the CERN IT Department on efforts to improve technologies related to ‘physics data reduction’. This work will take place within the framework of an existing CERN openlab project with Intel on ‘big-data analytics’.

‘Physics data reduction’ plays a vital role in ensuring researchers are able to gain valuable insights from the vast amounts of particle-collision data produced by high-energy physics experiments, such as the CMS experiment on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The project’s goal is to develop a new system — using industry-standard big-data tools — for filtering many petabytes of heterogeneous collision data to create manageable, but rich, datasets of a few terabytes for analysis. Using current systems, this kind of targeted data reduction can often take weeks; but the aim of the project is to be able to achieve this in a matter of hours.

“Time is critical in analysing the ever-increasing volumes of LHC data,”says Oliver Gutsche, a Fermilab scientist working at the CMS experiment. “I am excited about the prospects CERN openlab brings to the table: systems that could enable us to perform analysis much faster and with much less effort and resources.” Gutsche and his colleagues will explore methods of ensuring efficient access to the data from the experiment. For this, they will investigate techniques based on Apache Spark, a popular open-source software platform for distributed processing of very large data sets on computer clusters built from commodity hardware. "The success of this project will have a large impact on the way analysis is conducted, allowing more optimised results to be produced in far less time,” says Matteo Cremonesi, a research associate at Fermilab. "I am really looking forward to using the new open-source tools; they will be a game changer for the overall scientific process in high-energy physics."

The team plans to first create a prototype of the system, capable of processing 1 PB of data with about 1000 computer cores. Based on current projections, this is about 1/20th of the scale of the final system that would be needed to handle the data produced when the High-Luminosity LHC comes online in 2026. Using this prototype, it should be possible to produce a benchmark (or ‘reference workload’) that can be used evaluate the optimum configuration of both hardware and software for the data-reduction system.

“This kind of work, investigating big-data analytics techniques is vital for high-energy physics — both in terms of physics data and data from industrial control systems on the LHC,” says Maria Girone, CERN openlab CTO. “However, these investigations also potentially have far-reaching impact for a range of other disciplines. For example, this CERN openlab project with Intel is also exploring the use of these kinds of analytics techniques for healthcare data.”

“Intel is proud of the work it has done in enabling the high-energy physics community to adopt the latest technologies for high-performance computing, data analytics, and machine learning — and reap the benefits. CERN openlab’s project on big-data analytics is one of the strategic endeavours to which Intel has been contributing,” says Stephan Gillich, Intel Deutschland’s director of technical computing for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “The possibility of extending the CERN openlab collaboration to include Fermilab, one of the world’s leading research centres, is further proof of the scientific relevance and success of this private-public partnership.”


Intel teams up with CERN openlab on the Modern Code Developer Challenge

Fri, 10/11/2017 - 17:43
Thursday, 16 November, 2017

CERN openlab and Intel are pleased to announce the winners of the Intel® Modern Code Developer Challenge! The announcement was made today at ‘SC17’, the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis, in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Two winners were selected: Elena Orlova, for her work on improving particle collision simulation algorithms, and Konstantinos Kanellis, for his work on cloud-based biological simulations.

A challenge for CERN openlab summer students

CERN openlab is a unique public-private partnership between CERN and leading companies, helping accelerate development of the cutting-edge ICT solutions that make the laboratory’s ground-breaking physics research possible. Intel has been a partner in CERN openlab since 2001, when the collaboration was first established.

Each year, CERN openlab runs a highly competitive summer-student programme that sees 30-40 students from around the world come to CERN for nine weeks to do hands-on ICT projects involving the latest industry technologies.

This year, five students were selected to take part in the Intel® Modern Code Developer Challenge. This competition showcases the students’ blogs about their projects — all of which make use of Intel technologies or are connected to broader collaborative initiatives between Intel and CERN openlab. You can find additional information about these projects on a dedicated website that also features audio and video interviews

“We are thrilled to support these students through the Modern Code Developer Challenge,” says Michelle Chuaprasert, Director, Developer Relations Division at Intel. “Intel's partnership with CERN openlab is part of our continued commitment to education and building the next generation of scientific coders that are using high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, and Internet-of-things (IoT) technologies to have a positive impact on people’s lives across the world.”


Selecting a winner from five challenging projects

The competition featured students working on exciting challenges within both high-energy physics and other research domains.

At the start of the challenge, the plan was for a panel of judges to select just one of the five students as the winner and to invite said winner to present their work at the SC17 conference. However, owing to the high quality of the students’ work, the judges decided to select two winners, both of whom received full funding from Intel to travel to the USA and present their work.


Smash-simulation software

Elena Orlova, a third-year student in applied mathematics from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia, was selected as one of the two winners. Her work focused on teaching algorithms to be faster at simulating particle-collision events.


Physicists widely use a software toolkit called GEANT4 to simulate what will happen when a particular kind of particle hits a particular kind of material in a particle detector. This toolkit is so popular that researchers use it in other fields to predict how particles will interact with other matter, such as in assessing radiation hazards in space, in commercial air travel, in medical imaging, and in optimizing scanning systems for cargo security.

An international team, led by researchers at CERN, is developing a new version of this simulation toolkit known as GeantV. This work is supported by a CERN openlab project with Intel on code modernization. GeantV will improve physics accuracy and boost performance on modern computing architectures.

The team behind GeantV is implementing a deep learning tool intended to make simulations faster. Orlova worked to write a flexible mini-application to help train the deep neural network on distributed computing systems.

“I’m really glad to have had this opportunity to work on a breakthrough project like this with such cool people,” says Orlova. “I’ve improved my skills, gained lots of new experience, and have explored new places and foods. I hope my work will be useful for further research.”


Cells in the cloud


Konstantinos Kanellis, a final-year undergraduate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Thessaly, Greece, is the other Modern Code Developer Challenge winner due to his work related to BioDynaMo. BioDynaMo is one of CERN openlab’s knowledge-sharing projects (another part of CERN openlab’s collaboration with Intel on code modernization). The project’s goal is to develop methods for ensuring that scientific software makes full use of the computing potential offered by today’s cutting-edge hardware technologies. This joint effort by CERNNewcastle UniversityInnopolis University, and Kazan Federal University is to design and build a scalable and flexible platform for rapid simulation of biological tissue development.


The project focuses initially on the area of brain tissue simulation, drawing inspiration from existing, but low-performance, software frameworks. By using the code to simulate development of both normal and diseased brains, neuroscientists hope to learn more about the causes of — and identify potential treatments for — disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

Late 2015 and early 2016 saw algorithms already written in Java code ported to C++. Once porting was completed, work began to optimise the code for modern computer processors and co-processors. However, to address ambitious research questions, more computational power was needed. Future work will attempt to adapt the code for high-performance computing resources over the cloud.

Kanellis’s work focused on adding network support for the single-node simulator and prototyping the computation management across many nodes. “Being a summer student at CERN was a rich and fulfilling experience. It was exciting to work on an interesting and ambitious project like BioDynaMo,” says Kanellis. “I feel honoured to have been chosen as a winner, and that I've managed to deliver something meaningful that can make an impact in the future.”


ICT stars of the future

Alberto Di Meglio, head of CERN openlab, will present more details about these projects, as well as details about the entire competition, in a talk at SC17. The other three projects featured in the challenge focused on using machine learning techniques to better identify the particles produced by collision events, integrating IoT devices into the control systems for the LHC, and helping computers get better at recognising objects in satellite maps created by UNITAR, a UN agency hosted at CERN.

 “Training the next generation of developers — the people who can produce the scientific code that makes world-leading research possible — is of paramount importance across all scientific fields,” says Meglio. “We’re pleased to partner with Intel on this important cause.”


For more information, please visit the Intel® Modern Code Developer Challenge website. Also, if you’re a student and are interested in joining next year’s CERN openlab Summer Student Programme, please visit the dedicated page on our website (applications will open in December).


CERN openlab Internet of Things Workshop

Mon, 06/11/2017 - 15:14
Monday, 6 November, 2017

CERN openlab is holding a workshop on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) on Tuesday 7 November.

Speakers from academia and industry will present the current state of key technologies used to build ‘smart’ environments, such as smart buildings, campuses, and even cities. Technologies related to smart mobility will also be discussed, as well as how these technologies are likely to impact on our daily lives.

Speakers from CERN will present opportunities for how the Organization could potentially make use of IoT technologies, and will describe several ongoing prototype projects.

Follow the event live via webcast here: The full timetable for the day is available here:

University of Crete - Department of Physics  - Voutes University Campus - GR-71003 Heraklion, Greece
phone: +30 2810 394300 - fax: +30 2810 394301