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star focus: star and the data grid

The STAR GRID team is an active participant in the Particle Physics Data Grid pilot project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Posted: September 24, 2004

As the amount of data recorded by the STAR Experiment accumulates, the data storage and data processing needs grow as well. STAR is an active participant in the Particle Physics Data Grid, a project to manage and distribute data and data analysis tasks across a large network of computing facilities around the country.

Scientific grid computing has many similarities to the file sharing networks popular for sharing music and videos, with the common goal of having simple access to files located anywhere on the internet. There are some important features of a "data grid" that keep us from being able to use the existing public file sharing networks. For example, it is essential that we understand and maintain the integrity of our data so that the results we get from analyzing these data are valid. For this reason, catalogs are maintained that describe the data files and specify what and where the valid files are, and who can read or modify the files.

There are additional features of a datagrid that you don't find in file sharing networks because of the huge amount of data each scientist will use and the large amount of CPU power necessary to analyze that data, which is not as simple as playing music or video files. From the scientist's desktop or laptop computer, she can cause files to be transfered between two different locations, like a storage system holding the data and a computing cluster that can process the data. This can be for individual files or for thousands of files (equivalent to thousands of CD's).

At present a small team of STAR members is helping to develop tools for use on the Particle Physics Data Grid. In the near future, it will be even simpler for STAR members to analyze large amounts of data. By specifying what analysis to run on which kind of data, the grid will find the processing power and where the data is located, analyze the data, and make the results accessible.

Contact Doug Olson or Jerome Lauret for more information about STAR GRID.

STAR GRID www | Particle Physics Data Grid www

Special feature on STAR's involvement in the Particle Physics Data Grid


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