"Europe should build its innovative advantage in key areas through reinforced e-Infrastructures and through the targeted development of innovation clusters in key fields. It should develop an EU-wide strategy on "cloud computing" notably for government and science."

Source: A Digital Agenda for Europe, 2.5.1 (page 26)


For the next decade the pillars of the European research-related IT infrastructure will be the high security data centres that follow a sustainable operating model. Hence, the WIGNER Datacenter, the large investment project of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Wigner Research Centre for Physics (MTA WIGNER RCP) – built in 2012 with the support of the Ministry of National Development (MND) – fits in with the strategy of Europe’s Digital Agenda and the Digital Renewal Action Plan. The Datacenter supports the dynamically changing needs of research and innovation through a cutting-edge infrastructure with exceptional energy efficiency, in an environmentally friendly way. The innovative implementation of the concentrated, high energy density computing and data storage capacity will serve as a reference for research IT projects in the future. The physical and IT security at the Csillebérc campus of the MTA WIGNER RCP ¬- which is outstanding even in international comparison – ensures extremely high availability and service quality to the research projects supported by the Datacenter.

Perspective drawing of the CERN@WIGNER Data Centre


The CERN@WIGNER project lays the foundation for the first international collaboration of the WIGNER Datacenter which presently is in the construction phase.
The MTA WIGNER RCP – with the support of MND – has won the international tender of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Selected from about 30 applicants for the CERN@WIGNER project, the state-of-the-art WIGNER Datacenter is going to host the extension of CERN’s Tier-0 infrastructure from 2013, and hence play a key role in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) data processing and the search for the Higgs boson as well. The CERN@WIGNER project serves as the basis for the long-term research supportingcollaboration between CERN and Hungary, which puts our country at the top of the latest European trend in research computing, shaping the developments in the next decade. In the framework of the project, for the first time in Europe a redundant, long distance network connection is set up with a 200 Gigabit per second bandwidth, which directly connects CERN’s LHC accelerator in Geneva with the Wigner Datacenter in Budapest. The amount of data transmitted through this optical network alone will come close to the entire Hungarian domestic Internet traffic.

The WIGNER Datacenter significantly stimulates the creation of jobs that require high added value in the area of physics and information technology, among others. Unprecedented collaboration is being established for remote management between the staff of CERN – the pioneer of Internet technology –, and the WIGNER Datacenter. This cooperation – in addition to having a prestige value in the field of science and innovation – also promotes technology and knowledge transfer. Sustainability and energy efficiency along with environmental awareness also played a key role in the design and construction of the WIGNER Datacenter.


The research centre is a key player in many international research projects with Hungarian participation. The organization was established on January 1, 2012 from the merger of KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics (KFKI RMKI) and the Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics (MTA SZFKI).

Research launched by KFKI RMKI with international cooperation in the last 20 years keeps going on in the WIGNER centre. Hence, the research staff of WIGNER RCP conduct fundamental research in the area of e.g. experimental and theoretical particle physics, nuclear physics, general relativity and gravitation, as well as develop advanced electronic, mechanical and information technology tools applied for rapid data handling, processing, and transmission. This activity largely contributes to the success of current research projects with Hungarian participation in CERN and other international research centres.


The research centre, which lies across the Swiss -French border, was established in 1954 and has become the internationally recognized pinnacle of high-energy particle and nuclear physics. CERN currently has 20 member states including Hungary, which joined 20 years ago, on July 1, 1992.

Schematic diagram of the LHC experiments

Scientists, engineers, IT specialists, and doctoral students from every country of the world arrive at CERN which operates as a world laboratory since 2011. With the accelerators, detectors and other equipment of CERN, approximately 10 000 qualified experts investigate the smallest building blocks of nature, the elementary particles; look for the Higgs boson which is responsible for the mass of the elementary particles; re-create forms of matter once existing in the Big Bang, such as the quark-gluon plasma; and search for the particle physics explanation for the dark matter and dark energy that forms our universe. CERN is also a knowledge centre of technological innovations necessary for research; its main mission is the dissemination of the newly developed methods and procedures. A good example is the World Wide Web that began with connecting computers, and started from here to conquer the world. CERN also serves the further education of students and teachers interested in natural sciences, and is always open to the inquisitive public.


A section of the LHC ring during assembly

The planning of the Large Hadron Collider began in 1985 and the device took 25 years to build. 2464 superconducting magnets are placed in the 27 km tunnel; the superconducting niobium titanate magnets are cooled with 1.9 Kelvin superfluid helium so that the 12000 Ampere current flowing through can create the 8 Tesla magnetic field which can keep the maximum 7000 GeV energy proton beams on track. The vacuum in the beam pipe is rarer than the interstellar gas in the solar system: a proton may be orbiting in it for 8-10 hours without hitting any stray atoms. It is as if a proton sped away to the Saturn and back without encountering another particle.

In 2011 the LHC made 3500 + 3500 GeV proton-proton collisions at half the target energy level. At the beginning of 2012 this energy was increased to 4000 + 4000 GeV. In 2013 the LHC has shut down for 18 months for the maintenance of the magnets. Upon restart the collision energy will be 6500 + 6500 = 13 000 GeV, which is close to the maximum performance. Moreover, plans for the expansion of the accelerator to 20000 GeV are already on the drawing board. In the accelerator 2808 proton bunches circulate like trains, each bunch with 100 billion protons. These bunches are squeezed to 15 microns in diameter by electromagnets, and they cross in the middle of the large detectors.

The 14 thousand ton CMS and the half size ATLAS search for the Higgs boson and the supersymmetric particles, the ALICE investigates the quark-gluon plasma properties, the LHCb explores the particle - antiparticle symmetry, and the TOTEM experiment measures the size of the proton at high energies.


The large detectors of LHC create vast amounts of data. One reason being that these giants of detectors have unprecedented measurement accuracy; moreover, the number of collisions has also increased. When two proton bunches speeding against each other overlap, at least 35-40 proton-proton collisions can occur; the detectors are able to separate these events and treat them individually.

Proton-proton collisions in the CMS detector

Lead-lead collision in the ALICE detector

Due to the high intensity, 800 million proton-proton collisions are detected every second in the CMS and ATLAS detectors. However, only 100-200 of these collision events provide valuable information; these events are selected on computers located by the detectors.

In the ALICE experiment, when heavy ions are collided, recordings are made of 8000 collisions per second, and 800 of them are sorted out within a few microseconds. In the next step, focussing on the physical phenomena, only 100 are selected to be passed to the Tier-0 centre. A heavy ion collision generates approx. 80 MB data, i.e. the detectors are basically huge digital cameras working around the clock.


What can be done with so much data? It must be handled very carefully and precisely because among the data of the millions and billions of collisions collected every year there are a few dozen that can prove the existence of the Higgs boson or any new particle. Therefore, the extraction of the key data from the collected thousands of terabytes of measurement data is a highly responsible task as well as an enormous challenge for the physicists and IT professionals.

The CERN Tier-0 computer room

The European part of the CERN based WLCG grid system

If we wanted to save all the 800 million proton-proton collisions for later processing, we should have to burn 200 000 DVDs per second, which is physically impossible. Therefore, the primary data are filtered by target computers installed a few meters from the detectors, and only the "physically interesting" data volume - which would only fill 30 DVDs per minute - is transmitted, saved and processed later. The valuable data are not written to DVDs of course, but transferred from the detectors to the CERN Tier-0 centre. Here the data are written to hard disks, and further processing, sorting and tape backup starts immediately. This activity is carried out by the Tier-0 centre, which is presently located at CERN.

This centre then sends the data to the Tier-1 centres, which transmit data and processing tasks in a pyramid style fashion to small Tier-2 stations with a few hundreds or thousands of processors, where the final analysis is done. The procedure ends at the even smaller Tier-3 centres which also carry out data processing. This hierarchical grid system does and will process the data flowing from the LHC detectors for the next 20 years, thereby answering physical questions.

The CERN@WIGNER project brings the Tier-0 centre to Csillebérc from January 1, 2012.


From Hungary 60-70 physicists, engineers, computer professionals, masters and doctoral students participate in a variety of CERN experiments each year. They come from the MTA Wigner RCP, the MTA Institute of Nuclear Research, the ELTE University, the University of Debrecen, and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The Hungarian team leaders usually work for MTA WIGNER RCP. Currently, a Tier-2 centre operates in the MTA WIGNER RCP and a Tier-3 centre in Debrecen. Participation of the Hungarian researchers at CERN is coordinated by the CERN committee of the Hungarian National Innovation Office. Financial support is provided by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Ministry for National Economy and the Ministry of National Development. In addition, the National Scientific Research Fund (OTKA) and the National Development Agency tenders also promote research.

Hungarian participation in the CERN experiments

The members of the CERN@WIGNER project are ready to transplant the knowledge created in the WIGNER Datacenter to other areas, and at the same time make the datacentre become a knowledge centre with regard to IT technologies.

Short video about the construction of the Wigner Data Center

This video is also available in other languages: deutsch, français, italiano

www.wigner.mta.hu www.mta.hu www.nfm.gov.hu www.cern.ch