Los Alamos deploys shared storage system

The computer experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory are in the business of anticipating problems before they hinder the lab's supercomputer-driven mission.

A few years ago, lab officials determined that they were running out gas, at least in terms of file system scalability. That discovery spurred a quest for new technology. Officials engaged academia, supporting research at Carnegie Mellon University. They also created a requirements document and held a bidders' conference to test the feasibility of translating those requirements into a request for proposals that industry could pursue.

The years-long vision took its first step toward reality last year, when Los Alamos awarded a storage contract to Panasas Inc. Panasas will supply storage to three Linux clusters, which perform nuclear weapons test simulations. Panasas' file system technology, dubbed the ActiveScale File System, was able to meet the lab's scalability target of 1 gigabyte/sec of throughput for every teraflop of computer power.

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