NERSC Tape Archives Make the Move to Berkeley Lab’s Shyh Wang Hall

February 11, 2019

Feb. 11, 2019 — When the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) relocated from its former home in downtown Oakland, Calif. to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Shyh Wang Hall in 2015, not everything came with. The last remaining task in the heroic effort of moving the supercomputing facility and all of its resources is 43 years of archival data that’s stored on thousands of high performance tapes in Oakland. Those 120 petabytes of experimental and simulation data have to be electronically transferred to new tape libraries at Berkeley Lab, a process that will take up to two years—even with an ESnet 400 Gigabit “superchannel” now in place between the two sites.

NERSC’s Wayne Hurlbert (left) and Damian Hazen (right) are overseeing the transfer of 43 years’ worth of NERSC data to new tape libraries at Shyh Wang Hall. Image: Peter DaSilva

Tape for archival storage makes sense for NERSC and is a key component of NERSC’s storage hierarchy. Tape provides long-term, high capacity stable storage and only consumes power when reading or writing, making it a cost-effective and environmentally friendly storage solution. And the storage capacity of a tape cartridge exceeds that of more commonly known hard disk drives.

“Increasing hard disk drive capacity has become more and more difficult as manufacturers need to pack more data into a smaller and smaller area, whereas today’s tape drives are leveraging technology developed for disks a decade ago,” said Damian Hazen, NERSC’s storage systems group lead. Hazen points out that tape storage technology has receded from the public eye in part because of capacity online data storage services provided by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, and that disk does work well for those with moderate storage needs. But, unbeknownst to most users, these large storage providers also include tape in their storage strategy.

“Moderate” does not describe NERSC’s storage requirements. With data from simulations run on NERSC’s Cori supercomputer, and experimental and observational data coming from facilities all over the U.S. and abroad, the NERSC users send approximately 1.5 petabytes of data each month to the archive.

“Demands on the NERSC archive grow every year,” Hazen said. “With the delivery of NERSC’s next supercomputer Perlmutter in 2020, and tighter integration of computational facilities like NERSC with local and remote experimental facilities like ALS and LCLS-II, this trend will continue.”

Environmental Challenges

To keep up with the data challenges, the NERSC storage group continuously refreshes the technology used in the archive. But in relocating the archive to the environmentally efficient Shyh Wang Hall, there was an additional challenge. The environmental characteristics of the new energy-efficient building meant that NERSC needed to deal with more substantial changes in temperature and humidity in the computer room. This wasn’t good news for tape, which requires a tightly controlled operating environment, and meant that the libraries in Oakland could not just be picked up and moved to Berkeley Lab. New technology emerged at just the right time in the form of an environmentally isolated tape library, which uses built-in environmental controls to maintain an ideal internal environment for the tapes. NERSC deployed two full-sized, environmentally self-contained libraries last fall. Manufactured by IBM, the new NERSC libraries are currently the largest of this technology in the world.

“The new libraries solved two problems: the environmental problem, which allowed us to put the tape library right on the computer room floor, and increasing capacity to keep up with growth as we move forward,” said Wayne Hurlbert, a staff engineer in NERSC’s storage systems group. Tape cartridge capacity doubles roughly every two to three years, with 20 terabyte cartridges available as of December 2018.

The newer tape cartridges have three times the capacity of the old, and the archive libraries can store a petabyte per square foot. With the new system in place, data from the tape drives in Oakland is now streaming over to the tape archive libraries in the Shyh Wang Hall computer room via the 400 Gigabit link that ESnet built three years ago to connect the two data centers together. It was successfully used to transfer file systems between the two sites without any disruption to users. As with the file system move, the archive data transfer will be largely transparent to users.

Even with all of this in place, it will still take about two years to move 43 years’ worth of NERSC data. Several factors contribute to this lengthy copy operation, including the extreme amount of data to be moved and the need to balance user access to the archive.

“We’re very cautious about this,” Hurlbert said. “We need to preserve this data; it’s not infrequent for researchers to need to go back to their data sets, often to use modern techniques to reanalyze. The archive allows us to safeguard irreplaceable data generated over decades; the data represents millions of dollars of investment in computational hardware and immense time, effort, and scientific results from researchers around the world.”

NERSC and ESnet are DOE Office of Science user facilities.


Source: NERSC

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Amid Upbeat Earnings, Intel to Cut 1% of Employees, Add as Many

January 24, 2020

For all the sniping two tech old timers take, both IBM and Intel announced surprisingly upbeat earnings this week. IBM CEO Ginny Rometty was all smiles at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, after  Read more…

By Doug Black

Indiana University Dedicates ‘Big Red 200’ Cray Shasta Supercomputer

January 24, 2020

After six months of celebrations, Indiana University (IU) officially marked its bicentennial on Monday – and it saved the best for last, inaugurating Big Red 200, a new AI-focused supercomputer that joins the ranks of Read more…

By Staff report

What’s New in HPC Research: Tsunamis, Wildfires, the Large Hadron Collider & More

January 24, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Toshiba Promises Quantum-Like Advantage on Standard Hardware

January 23, 2020

Toshiba has invented an algorithm that it says delivers a 10-fold improvement for a select class of computational problems, without the need for exotic hardware. In fact, the company's simulated bifurcation algorithm is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Energy Research Combines HPC, 3D Manufacturing

January 23, 2020

A federal energy research initiative is gaining momentum with the release of a contract award aimed at using supercomputing to harness 3D printing technology that would boost the performance of power generators. Partn Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

TACC Highlights Its Upcoming ‘IsoBank’ Isotope Database

January 22, 2020

Isotopes – elemental variations that contain different numbers of neutrons – can help researchers unearth the past of an object, especially the few hundred isotopes that are known to be stable over time. However, iso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Toshiba Promises Quantum-Like Advantage on Standard Hardware

January 23, 2020

Toshiba has invented an algorithm that it says delivers a 10-fold improvement for a select class of computational problems, without the need for exotic hardware Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Advanced Computing and HPC, Dell EMC Sets Sights on the Broader Market Middle 

January 22, 2020

If the leading advanced computing/HPC server vendors were in the batting lineup of a baseball team, Dell EMC would be going for lots of singles and doubles – Read more…

By Doug Black

DNA-Based Storage Nears Scalable Reality with New $25 Million Project

January 21, 2020

DNA-based storage, which involves storing binary code in the four nucleotides that constitute DNA, has been a moonshot for high-density data storage since the 1960s. Since the first successful experiments in the 1980s, researchers have made a series of major strides toward implementing DNA-based storage at scale, such as improving write times and storage density and enabling easier file identification and extraction. Now, a new $25 million... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AMD Recruits Intel, IBM Execs; Pending Layoffs Reported at Intel Data Platform Group

January 17, 2020

AMD has raided Intel and IBM for new senior managers, one of whom will replace an AMD executive who has played a prominent role during the company’s recharged Read more…

By Doug Black

Atos-AMD System to Quintuple Supercomputing Power at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

January 15, 2020

The United Kingdom-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), a supercomputer-powered weather forecasting organization backed by most of Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

White House AI Regulatory Guidelines: ‘Remove Impediments to Private-sector AI Innovation’

January 9, 2020

When it comes to new technology, it’s been said government initially stays uninvolved – then gets too involved. The White House’s guidelines for federal a Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts Quantum Network Growth, Improving QC Quality, and Battery Research

January 8, 2020

IBM today announced its Q (quantum) Network community had grown to 100-plus – Delta Airlines and Los Alamos National Laboratory are among most recent addition Read more…

By John Russell

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Summit Has Real-Time Analytics: Here’s How It Happened and What’s Next

October 3, 2019

Summit – the world’s fastest publicly-ranked supercomputer – now has real-time streaming analytics. At the 2019 HPC User Forum at Argonne National Laborat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This