CERN to Support Hadron Collider Growth with New Data Centre

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, launches a new data centre site in France to support its Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

In February 2024, a new data centre developed by CERN was launched, marking the completion of the major project as part of the organisation's computing strategy.

Based at CERN’s Prévessin site in France, the data centre spans more than 6,000 square metres and includes six rooms for IT equipment with a cooling capacity of 2 MW each. The data centre is ultimately designed to support the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as the rate of its data production continues to grow.

The news comes as data centres seek to review their power usage effectiveness (PUE) by ensuring that energy consumption remains as sustainable as possible.

Contributing to a fast-paced data centre world

Having fast-become integral to the digital world, data centres currently account for roughly 1.5% of global energy consumption, with the business world seeing increased demand for speed and services.

The LHC currently produces roughly 45 petabytes per week - a figure that is expected to double when the accelerator is upgraded to a High-Luminosity LHC. Data from these experiments is fed into the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG), which is a collaboration between 170 data centres across 40 countries.

The new data centre in France will host CPU (central processing unit) servers for physics data processing, in addition to a small amount of CPU servers and storage capacity for business continuity and disaster recovery. 

CERN’s main data centre in Switzerland (Meyrin) will continue to house the majority of the organisation’s data storage capacity. Whilst the Meyrin data centre has so far performed a Tier 0 role, acting as the core for the WLCG, the new Prévessin centre will be able to offer CERN vital additional computing capacity.

Over the next ten years, CERN aims to fully equip the new data centre, adding up to 78 racks in each IT room.

Developing global data centre sustainability

As the demand for data will only continue to rise, CERN’s new site is one of many that will aim to operate sustainably.

The new building was built in a record time of less than two years and seeks to comply with strict technical requirements to ensure its environmental sustainability. For instance, it is equipped with a heat-recovery system that aims to heat buildings across the Prévessin site.

Heat reuse technology has fast become a possible solution for data centres to make good on their sustainability and Net Zero pledges. In addition to increasing sustainability, heat reuse also has potential to reduce global energy consumption and make data centre services more efficient.

CERN’s new Prévessin data centre has a PUE target of 1.1, lower than the worldwide average of 1.6, which makes for a very efficient data centre. 

The organisation is also incredibly keen to ensure that its facilities remain sustainable and do not impact the environment too much. It considers the PUE - ratio of total data centre input power to IT load power - in addition to water usage effectiveness (WUE), which is the ratio between water usage in data centre systems and the energy consumption of IT equipment.

CERN says that the cooling system will be automatically triggered when the outside temperature reaches 20 degrees Celsius In addition, five huge fan-walls installed in each room will ensure that the overall temperature does not exceed 32 degrees Celsius.

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