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Using high-performance computing (HPC) to solve the world’s largest challenges

Jason Adlard | January 2024

Man carrying laptop looking at a row of data servers.

CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research, is the world’s most renowned particle physics research facility. It operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is not only the largest particle accelerator in the world but also the largest machine!

The LHC recreates conditions similar to those just after the Big Bang by firing trillions of particles at each other at nearly the speed of light and generating up to one billion collisions each second. Sensors record what happens when these particles collide. These collisions can create an abundance of new particles — the building blocks of all matter – and generate massive volumes of raw data that can be challenging to capture, store and analyze.

CERN and its research teams are committed to using the most advanced technologies to assist in these challenges, including artificial intelligence (AI) systems. This is where Micron comes in as the first and, to date, only memory company collaborating with CERN as members of its exclusive industry partner platform, openlab. Through this collaboration, Micron engineers are leveraging our high-performance memory innovations to assist CERN scientists in their most challenging experiments.

One such experiment is the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), which is a general-purpose detector at the LHC. The CMS’s function ranges from studying the Standard Model of physics (including the discovery of the Higgs boson) to searching for extra dimensions and dark matter. The CMS detector is built around a huge solenoid magnet that generates a field of four tesla, about 100,000 times the magnetic field of the Earth. As of May 2022, it was one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, involving about 5,500 particle physicists, engineers, technicians, students and support staff from 241 institutes in 54 countries.

The CMS is planning an extensive upgrade of the detector for operation at the High-Luminosity LHC starting in 2029. It will use more advanced event-selection algorithms, including machine-learning inference, and introduce a novel data-collection system known as Level-1 (L1) Scouting as part of the L1 trigger. This system collects and stores the reconstructed particle information, providing vast amounts of data for detector diagnostics, luminosity measurements and the study of otherwise inaccessible physics signatures.

The High-Luminosity LHC (H-L LHC) will be an extensive upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The HL-LHC is expected to increase the number of collisions by a factor of… where luminosity refers to… and is an indicator of the collider's performance.

To assist with high-speed data collection, CERN CMS will use Micron CZ120 memory expansion modules, based on the Compute Express Link™ (CXL™) standard, to improve the ingestion and data processing chain for L1 Scouting. The huge performance advantages of Micron CZ120 memory expansion modules — in terms capacity, bandwidth, and flexibility — will provide CMS coherent and seamless access to buffered data from multiple processors and compute accelerators, as well as a low-latency access/short-term storage space for both raw and processed data at scale.

This project continues a previous collaboration between CERN and Micron. The first project, successfully operated between 2019 and 2022, focused on accelerated machine-learning inference for triggering and data acquisition. With our new project, Micron will support CERN with advanced memory solutions that will allow faster processing of data and shorten the time insight.

Micron is very proud of our ongoing collaboration with CERN and extremely excited to be part of this scientific research project!

Director, Marketing and Business Development EMEA

Jason Adlard

Jason is Director of Business Development and Marketing for Micron’s Compute & Networking Business Unit in EMEA. He is responsible for the definition and execution of Micron’s regional strategy, with a focus on opportunity identification and development within the Cloud, Enterprise & HPC server segments. Jason also represents Micron at European HPC industry consortia, such as ETP4HPC, and in research collaboration projects with European academic institutes.

Jason has been with Micron for 8 years and in the Memory business for nearly 20 years, having previously held various sales and marketing management positions at Infineon and Qimonda. His experience within the semiconductor industry dates back to 1995 when he started his career at National Semiconductor.