DDN GridScaler Powers Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at Harvard

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Today DDN that Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Research Computing (FASRC) has deployed DDN’s GRIDScaler GS7KX parallel file system appliance with 1PB of storage. The installation has sped the collection of images detailing synaptic connectivity in the brain’s cerebral cortex.

DDN’s scale-out, parallel architecture delivers the performance we need to keep stride with the rapid pace of scientific research and discovery at Harvard,” said Scott Yockel, Ph.D., director of research computing at Harvard’s FAS Division of Science. “The storage just runs as it’s supposed to, so there’s no contention for resources and no complaints from our users, which empowers us to focus on the research.”

Researchers at Harvard’s Conte Center and the Center for Brain Science conduct pioneering behavioral and neurological studies to better understand the origins of neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, autism, depression, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Thousands of users, consisting of university researchers and others affiliated with external organizations, create a remarkable amount of data at an order of magnitude greater than any other research group, including gene sequencing research.

The use of powerful scientific instruments, including ZEISS MultiSEM 505 electron microscope, placed an inordinate strain on the university’s legacy NAS storage. The NAS could not accommodate stringent demands for simultaneous data reads/writes, which created synchronization delays and calibration problems with the mission-critical microscopes. Moreover, constraints on storage availability caused resource contention among thousands of servers performing computational analysis. To alleviate these bottlenecks, FASRC deployed the GS7KX to achieve the ideal balance of parallel performance and optimized availability.

At Harvard’s Lichtman Lab, electron microscopy is used to capture large volumes of mouse neocortex images at nanometer resolution, generating up to 3TB of data per hour at speeds of up to 6GBps. High-resolution images are generated from the ZEISS microscope’s 61 cameras and collected on eight PCs connected to the GS7KX via the GRIDScaler native Windows client. DDN’s increased storage speed and parallel processing streamline the collection, compression and preprocessing of more than 16,000 1GB files during a typical five-hour lab run.

Harvard’s brain exploration is poised to revolutionize the entire field of neuroscience, which is why it’s so critical for DDN Storage to ensure the highest levels of scalability and reliability,” said Paul Bloch, DDN president and co-founder. “The GS7KX has been engineered to deliver high-speed data ingest from the most sophisticated instrumentation while supporting computational processing and large-scale data analysis to speed the rate of scientific discoveries.”

DDN’s team will be available throughout the Bio-IT World conference to discuss the FARSC installation as well as the latest DDN Storage innovations that are accelerating research and delivering deeper insights and quicker answers in life sciences.

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