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NCSA is building a supercomputer with 380 petabytes of storage... of magnetic tape capacity

Thought tape was dead? Think again, NCSA is building a supercomputer with 380PB of it

By Anthony Garreffa from May 25, 2012 @ 0:25 CDT

Just when you thought tape was dead, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is getting ready to build a new storage infrastructure that will include 380 petabytes (PB) of magnetic tape capacity which will be backed up by 25 petabytes of online disk storage made up from 17,000 SATA drives.


The new storage infrastructure is said to be built to support one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, Blue Waters. Blue Waters was commissioned by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and is expected to have a peak performance of 11.5 petaflops. The NCSA says that they're building the system to:

Predict the behavior of complex biological systems, understand how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang, design new materials at the atomic level, predict the behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes, and simulate complex engineered systems like the power distribution system and airplanes and automobiles.

The 25PB of disk space will be online storage for data that needs to be accessed rapidly, with the tape library categorized as nearline, which is a compromise between online storage, and backup systems. The system will be built with 380,000 AMD Opteron 6200 Series x86 processors, and will sport 40Gbps Ethernet technology, with aggregate throughput of up to a terabyte per second.

How quick can the system write to the tape library? Well, it will be capabel of read/write speeds of up to 2.2 petabytes per hour. Doesn't sound like a lot because it's measured in hours, and not seconds, but 2.2 petabytes per hour is an insane amount of data.


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