Tape Robot Provides Data Storage Solutions for the Next Decade

What do you do when you need to increase the space available for storing vast amounts of data? One solution is to install a high-capacity automated tape library or ‘Tape Robot’.

​STFC’s Scientific Computing Department (SCD) needed to increase its capacity for storing and managing the vast and ever-growing amounts of data from the JASMIN Facility1 (environment and climate data) and through IRIS ​2 (astronomy, particle physics, and data from national facilities such as ISIS Neutron Source, Diamond Light Source and the Central Laser Facility).

The extra capacity needed to be at least 60 petabytes (PB) – the equivalent of storing more than 10 million DVDs – with the potential to increase again to meet future data demands.

Installed within STFC’s Scientific Data Centre at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), the new Spectra TFinity Tape Library has an initial capacity of 65PB, 48 Drive Bays and a mix of 17 industry open standard LTO-8 (Linear Tape Open) drives and 16 TS1160 drives – recent technology which will enable future expansion.

This system will provide for the predicted data-growth from existing groups over the next decade, and an active archive for JASMIN users and the IRIS science communities. It brings SCD’s total tape storage capacity within the RAL Scientific Data Centre to 240PB.

Professor Bryan Lawrence, JASMIN’s principal investigator, said, “Environmental data continues to rapidly increase in volume as more data is produced at an ever high rate from climate models, satellites or observations. This tape library will allow these data to be made available to environmental scientists and support their research for many years to come.​​​”

The new Tape Robot purchase and installation has been funded through JASMIN and IRIS.

See this post on the STFC’s Scientific Computing Department’s website here.

Learn more about Spectra’s TFinity® ExaScale Tape Library here.


1 JASMIN is the UK’s leading, and globally unique, environmental science supercomputer and data facility. It is managed jointly by SCD and CEDA (Centre for Environmental Data Analysis), part of RAL Space. It is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

2 IRIS coordinates e-infrastructure needs and knowledge exchange for a ‘cooperative’ of partners which enable the exploitation of data outputs from high-energy physics communities, such as GridPP. IRIS is an STFC project funded by the UK Government via UK Research and Innovation.