Research at the speed of light

Editorial Type: Case Study Date: 2020-12-01 Views: 527 Tags: Storage, Research, Covid-19, NVMe, Big Data, HPC, Excelero, HPCnow!, NVMesh PDF Version:
Excelero and partner HPCnow! are helping to accelerate research on COVID-19 and other diseases through more efficient data storage

HPCnow!, a specialist provider of advanced supercomputing and HPC services for scientific and research organisations, has performed a pilot at ALBA, a synchrotron light facility near Barcelona, to demonstrate how existing storage technologies can effectively deploy elastic NVMe-based data storage to support the acquisition and processing of the massive volumes of scientific data generated by its high performance beamlines, which use soft and hard X-rays' intense light source beams to help to characterise materials, their properties and behaviour.

ALBA is the only synchrotron light source in Spain. Its operation, based on a complex of electron accelerators, lets you visualise and analyse matter and its properties at an atomic and molecular level. Located in Cerdanyola del Vall├Ęs (Barcelona), ALBA receives more than 2,000 visits from research professionals and generates about 6,000 hours of synchrotron light per year. Its properties allow high quality information to be obtained on the characteristics of the samples under analysis. This year, the ALBA Synchrotron celebrates its 10th anniversary. ALBA has eight beamlines operating and five more under construction which are used for experiments in biomedicine, nanotechnology, materials science, cultural heritage, physics, environmental science or chemistry, among others.

Managed by the public Consortium for the Construction, Equipment and Exploitation of the Synchrotron Light Laboratory (CELLS) and jointly financed by the Spanish and Catalan governments, the ALBA Synchrotron is a unique scientific and technical infrastructure that brings added value to the scientific and industrial sectors.

With a new initiative to support small to medium enterprises performing COVID-19 research, in addition its many other scientific data processing and analysis workloads, ALBA's IT Systems department needs an efficient scale-out storage to enable timely analysis and conclusions.

Excelero's NVMesh is software-defined distributed block storage that delivers Elastic NVMe for high performance computing workloads as well as AI/ML/deep learning, data warehouses and containers. Customers benefit from the performance of local flash with the convenience of centralised storage while avoiding proprietary hardware lock-in and reducing the overall storage TCO. Its low-latency, high throughput distributed block storage makes it fast and easy to scale up storage capacity as datasets grow - ensuring HPC applications don't become bottlenecked, and providing the agility, elasticity, price/performance and ROI that are often hard to achieve at scale.

"Top research institutions need far more throughput than traditional storage systems can provide to power data-intensive microscopy and other research, and we've been tremendously impressed with the high IOPS and low latency that Excelero delivers with its NVMesh software," said David Tur, CEO at HPCnow!, who directed the ALBA proof of concept project. "We are already in the early stages of exploring several large-scale deployments where scale-out storage such as Excelero's NVMesh can help researchers achieve their goals faster and at lower cost."

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