Tuesday, 4th August 2020

Processing and preserving scientific research data

Spectra TFinity Tape Library functions as an active archive for more than 60 petabytes of research data at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, enabling future expansion.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has deployed a Spectra® TFinity®ExaScale Tape Library in its Scientific Data Centre facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, with an initial capacity of 65PB and the scalability to meet future data demands. The Spectra TFinity library was deployed to function as an active archive for storing and managing the vast volumes of data from CEDA (the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis), which includes a unique environmental science supercomputer and data facility known as JASMIN, and from IRIS, an e-Infrastructure for astronomy and particle physics research.

The UK’s STFC is a world-leading multidisciplinary science organisation that supports an academic community of approximately 1,700 people who work in the UK and worldwide. Its Scientific Computing Department (SCD), based in the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), aims to drive improvements for scientific research. It manages high-performance computing facilities and services, developing the infrastructure that allows STFC to process huge volumes of data. The department is home to STFC’s Scientific Data Centre, which hosts the JASMIN facility and the IRIS project. SCD needed to increase its data storage and management capacity with a solution that could also run continuously and handle requests from multiple applications concurrently.

"Our new Spectra tape library will allow the massive volumes of environmental data we collect to be made available to environmental scientists and support their research for many years to come," said Professor Bryan Lawrence, JASMIN principal investigator, University of Reading.

The new Spectra TFinity Tape Library has an initial capacity of 65PB, with 48 drive bays and a mixture of 17 open-standard LTO-8 tape drives and 16 IBM® TS1160 tape drives. By implementing the latest tape drive technology in the new storage system, the SCD is prepared for future expansion. The TFinity tape library can handle simultaneous requests either by using multiple partitions in the library, or by having multiple robotic interface modules (RIMs) active in the same partition. Redundancies such as multiple tape access robots, power supplies, control paths and power distribution units mitigate failure and ensure the system will be able to run continuously, 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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