4 Reasons Why The HPC Community Chooses TFinity

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High performance computing (HPC) environments continually test the limits of technology and require peak performance from equipment—including storage. Spectra Logic builds some of the largest storage systems in the world. Spectra’s TFinity® ExaScale Tape Library, deployed in many HPC environments across the globe, is under continuous improvement to deliver the highest possible value for HPC customers. When it comes to storing data in HPC environments, organizations choose to work with Spectra because of our company culture and technology advancements. Developments like the TeraPack®, Time-Based Access Ordering System (TAOS) and TFinity Zoning provide unsurpassed performance, reliability, and scalability.  Spectra’s data storage solutions help push the boundaries of operational objectives.

Spectra’s Culture
Spectra Logic was founded by our current CEO, Nathan Thompson, while he attended the University of Colorado Boulder in 1979. For the last 40 years, Spectra has maintained a culture which embodies the entrepreneurial feel it had during its beginning as a startup, and creates a family-like atmosphere for employees, partners, and customers. Spectra’s culture allows the company to adapt and innovate at a much quicker rate than the competition, who are faced with layers upon layers of corporate bureaucracy.  Spectra’s ability to adapt and change has been beneficial to the HPC community as it has allowed Spectra to incorporate many HPC-specific features into products at the request of customers.

TeraPack Density

TeraPack serving the HPC Community

Spectra Logic’s TFinity ExaScale is capable of scaling to over 41,000 TS11X0 tape cartridges or 54,500 LTO slots, and 144 tape drives. In a recent announcement, Spectra detailed how a TFinity ExaScale will store and allow access to more than 2,000 petabytes of compressed data when fully populated with TS1160 tape drives and media, making it the largest single data storage machine in the world. It is also the only tape library which simultaneously supports LTO, IBM’s TS11xx, and Oracle’s T10000x technology. The TFinity is able to accomplish this, in part, due to Spectra’s innovative TeraPack design, a container which holds 10 LTO or 9 Enterprise tape cartridges at a single time and is handled by Spectra’s new robotic picker, the High Performance Transporter.

Spectra Logic has developed a time-based request ordering system for LTO called TAOS (Time-Based Access Ordering System). TAOS is designed to significantly reduce data read times on an LTO cartridge, and is included at no additional cost with Spectra’s BlueScale® software. In addition to reducing data access times, TAOS also reduces media and drive wear by optimizing data read efficiencies to require less time and less mechanical cycles. TAOS is currently available with Spectra tape libraries when used in an HPSS or DMF environment. Versity is also working on enabling the feature for their software. Features such as TAOS have traditionally only been available with enterprise tape drives, such as IBM’s TS11xx technology. Spectra is the first and only vendor to add this feature to LTO. Enterprise features like TAOS allow organizations to leverage LTO‘s low cost while gaining the performance benefits traditionally only found in enterprise media.

TFinity Zoning

When managing massive amounts of data with a tape library, data partitions, drive allocations, and robotic optimizations become crucial to maintaining efficient workflows for users. Data partitions, however, where a set number of tape drives are assigned to a certain number of tape slots, can often create performance bottlenecks if users are prevented from using tape drives in a partition they cannot access or need to write data to a partition where all tape drives are in use. Furthermore, tape libraries will operate faster if the tape cartridges are located closer to tape drives.

For customers who do not wish to partition their storage, a new feature called “zoning” allows for users to reap similar benefits within a single partition. Zoning is also an excellent way to ensure that required tape media is loaded into the closest possible tape drive. When zoning is enabled, the status of each element (drives and slots) includes a “zone” which indicates the side (left/right) of the library the element is currently on. This allows the host to select zone 1 drives for mounting zone 1 tapes and vice versa. As long as moves do not cross zones, all moves can be done in parallel. The software package being used to move the data can maintain two work queues, one for each zone. Work from the head of each queue is sent to the appropriate interface. As long as work is available on both queues, the library performs at twice the speed of a single robot library, and overcomes potential bottlenecks from inefficient partitioning.

For more information on Spectra’s HPC solutions, please see our dedicated high performance computing page here.