Ultra high-speed scientific data connection opens between Germany and Poland
Tomorrow Poland and Germany are expected to open their borders for travel and tourism. The border has already opened for scientific data to travel at high speed in both directions. Today Secretary of State Wolf-Dieter Lukas of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Polish Undersecretary of State of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education Grzegorz Wrochna opened an ultra high-speed connection for the exchange of scientific data between the two countries.
The new connection between European XFEL, DESY and National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) in Otwock-Świerk near Warsaw will be used to analyse data from experiments carried out by international teams of researchers at the world’s largest X-ray laser European XFEL.
The first passenger on the new data line was data from the model biomolecule lysozyme, of which16 million frames of data were collected at European XFEL and analysed in a proof of concept experiment published in 2019. The data will now be analysed again in Poland to test and validate the software and procedures in situ at NCBJ.
X-ray data of molecules enable scientists to determine their three-dimensional structure. Many such images are combined to create molecular movies to investigate extremely fast processes, for example in the human body, in chemical reactions or in materials.
A key limitation to the speed of scientific data analysis is the availability of computing power to process the data. From calibrating datasets to solving structures, huge amounts of CPU time are required. Using two computing centres – at DESY in Hamburg and NCBJ in Świerk – will accelerate the analysis of data generated by experiments at European XFEL.
The ultra high-speed connection means the time required to transfer the data is much shorter than the time saved by accessing more computing power. The new international connection will enable data to travel with a speed up to 100 gigabits per second (Gbit/s) – about 400 times faster than a standard household high-speed internet connection, which can typically manage a download speed of about 250 Mbit/s. It is approximately 100 times faster than the typical internet connections between European XFEL and other research institutes, with the exception of DESY. On a normal connection it would take about a month to transfer the huge amount of data generated by an average experiment at the facility. The new connection will reduce this to just a few hours.
Wolf-Dieter Lukas, Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research said, “The ultra high-speed connection brings us closer together at a time when we need it most. Polish and German ingenuity, scientific and engineering excellence, great teamwork and significant investment have made this possible. Between Poland and Germany, we now have scientific instruments to observe extremely fast processes, computing centres to analyse them, and a data connection to transmit the data and the data and the results – all at high speed.”
“The fact that the second, next to Hamburg, XFEL laser data centre is being created at NCBJ is a huge success of Polish scientists. The Ministry and NCBJ have been preparing this undertaking for several years. This success is an expression of recognition of the European XFEL member countries for the Polish contribution to the construction, commissioning and XFEL support,” said Grzegorz Wrochna, Polish Undersecretary of State of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
Today, an agreement between European XFEL and NCBJ that paves the way to using NBCJ computing power has been signed between the Managing Directors of the two facilities, Prof Robert Feidenhans’l and Dr Nicole Elleuche for European XFEL as well as Krzysztof Kurek for NCBJ .
“We are very excited about the first high-speed data link to a shareholder country outside Germany,” Robert Feidenhans’l said. “It opens new opportunities for close and fruitful collaboration with our Polish colleagues and experts in data analysis to the mutual benefit of both partners.”
“Intelligent distribution and processing of large amounts of data is one of the keys to science at large scale research centres like DESY or European XFEL,” said Prof. Dr. Wim Leemans, Director of DESY’s Accelerator Division. “Fast data lines like these will boost international cooperation at these unique facilities.”
Construction of additional infrastructure to ensure a dedicated high-speed connection began in 2017. In addition to European XFEL and NCBJ, the German National Research and Education Network (DFN), the Supercomputing and Networking Center at the Institute for Bioorganic Chemistry in Poznań (PSNC), the Research and Academic Computer Network National Research Institute (NASK), and Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) participated in the installation of the new high-speed data connection.
About European XFEL
The European XFEL in the Hamburg area is a new international research facility of superlatives: 27,000 X-ray flashes per second and a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources open up completely new opportunities for science. Research groups from around the world are able to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional “photos” of the nanoworld, “film” chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. The operation of the facility is entrusted to European XFEL, a non-profit company that cooperates closely with its main shareholder, the research centre DESY, and other organisations worldwide. European XFEL has a workforce of more than 450 employees and started user operation September 2017. With construction and commissioning costs of 1.25 billion euro (at 2005 price levels) and a total length of 3.4 kilometres, the European XFEL is one of the largest and most ambitious European new research facilities to date. At present, 12 countries have signed the European XFEL convention: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. For more information on European XFEL go to www.xfel.eu.
Dr. Bernd Ebeling
Telephone: +49 (0) 40 8998-6921