“The world's largest” isn't generally a smart way to describe Alice. But CERN researchers on a project dubbed A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE) say their Large Hadron Collider is the largest system in the world of scientific instruments. The sub-atomic particle accelerator is housed in a 27 km-long tunnel that's 100m underground. It sends two beams of atomic particles called hadrons, either protons or lead ions, in opposite directions, speeding them up before they collide. When that occurs, 120 Virtex 4 FPGAs from Xilinx help analyze the 1.2 million analog signals gathered from 540 parallel particle detectors. The FPGAs all hold two IBM PowerPC microprocessors.
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