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NASA Boosts Pleiades Supercomputer with Broadwell CPUs and LTO Tape

The recent hardware upgrades to the Spectra Logic mass storage system at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility triple the archival storage capacity for NAS supercomputing users.

The recent hardware upgrades to the Spectra Logic mass storage system at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility triple the archival storage capacity for NAS supercomputing users.

NASA Ames reports that SGI has completed an important upgrade to Pleiades supercomputer.

As of July 1, 2016, all of the remaining racks of Intel Xeon X5670 (Westmere) processors were removed from Pleiades to make room for an additional 14 Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 (Broadwell) racks, doubling the number of Broadwell nodes to 2,016 and increasing the system’s theoretical peak performance to 7.25 petaflops. Pleiades now has a total of 246,048 CPU cores across 161 racks containing four different Intel Xeon processor types, and provides users with more than 900 terabytes of memory.

Installed in 2008, Pleiades is a heterogeneous supercomputing system that now contains five different Intel Xeon processor types. Over the last eight years, the supercomputer has undergone over a dozen upgrades, climbing to 13 times its original computational capability of 487 teraflops, and currently ranks among the top 10 most powerful supercomputers in the United States.

As part of the recent expansion work, engineers also deployed the latest generation of Linear Tape Open (LTO) tape technology to the Spectra Logic mass storage archive system, tripling the tape library capacity at the NAS facility to an extraordinary half-exabyte of data (with compression). The new LTO-7 tape format can store 6 TB of uncompressed data per tape—a 400% increase in storage from the previous LTO-5 tape format used at NAS.

With approximately 111 petabytes (PB) of data currently being stored and the amount of archived user data growing by an average of 3 PB per month, this upgrade will help NASA keep pace with the ever-increasing data storage requirements of the scientists and engineers who use the supercomputing systems to support agency missions.

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