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Streaming a Data Tsunami

May 4, 2020
UT Physics Professor Ken Read

Image credit/caption Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Kenneth Read led design, fabrication and assembly of ALICE’s upgraded electronics hardware. Background: CERN. Foreground: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy; photographer Carlos Jones, composition Brett Hopwood.

Physics Professor Ken Read specializes in nuclear physics and high-performance computing, as evidenced by his leadership of the team that delivered 3,276 circuit boards (with nearly 500 spares) for a major electronics upgrade at A Large Ion Collider Experiment, better known as ALICE. This enormous experiment, located at CERN in Geneva, seeks to untangle the mysteries of the quark-gluon plasma: a primordial “soup” of quarks and gluons present soon after the universe was born. Read’s team designed, fabricated, and assembled electronics hardware to process streaming data — in real-time — at a rate of 3 terabytes per second. The work was part of a major multi-year upgrade for ALICE done with partners including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where Read holds a joint faculty appointment. Read more about this work, with additional insights from UT Physics/ORNL Joint Faculty Professor and upgrade project director Thomas Cormier, in the ORNL feature, "Major upgrades of particle detectors and electronics prepare CERN experiment to stream a data tsunami," which was highlighted on the DOE Office of Science website as a Science Headline. Professor Soren Sorensen, and physics graduate students Andy Castro, Charles Hughes, Austin Schmier, and Will Witt made important contributions to the project.

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