Durham University’s DiRAC Memory Intensive Service Stores Irreplaceable Research Data of the Universe on Two Spectra T950 Tape Libraries

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Have you ever thought about what it would take to collect, analyze and store all the data generated from cosmological simulations of the entire evolution of the universe or the deep modeling of the fundamental structure of matter? These simulations require huge amounts of memory and RAM and the DiRAC Memory Intensive Service, an HPC facility hosted by Durham University, is a key part of the computing infrastructure that provides researchers with the ability to understand and share knowledge about physics and the universe.

DiRAC (Distributed Research Utilizing Advanced Computing) is the integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology, and nuclear physics. It is a key part of the infrastructure supporting the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Frontier Science Program. 

Four UK universities including Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh and Leicester are responsible for delivering DiRAC’s HPC services. Over time, Durham expects to see a 10-fold increase in processing and corresponding growth in data creation and storage requirements. Given their multi-petabyte need for research archiving, Durham deployed a single Spectra® T950 Tape Library with LTO tape drives for the long-term storage of vast amounts of cosmological data, representing simulations of galaxy formation and evolution. Pleased with the first deployment, Durham installed a second Spectra T950 Tape Library with LTO drives and media to support DiRAC-3, an initiative funded by UK Research and Innovation to upgrade computing power at all four DiRAC sites. The new HPC systems will be three to five times more powerful than the existing DiRAC machines.

“Collaboration is key at DiRAC sites and we expect it from our technology providers,” commented Dr. Alastair Basden, technical lead for the DiRAC Memory Intensive Service at Durham University. “We have seen Spectra step up to the mark more than once since the deployment of our Spectra T950 Tape Library. We’ve received very good support and advice from the Spectra team every step of the way.”

To learn more about how Durham University uses Spectra T950 Tape Libraries to archive its massive amount scientific research data, read the case study here.