World’s Largest Laser Runs on Data ONTAP

Downtime not an option for research tool

The world’s largest laser — 100 times more energetic than any previous laser system — resides at Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF). Scientists are investigating defense and energy applications with the laser.

As Mike McNamara writes on NetApp’s blog, downtime is not an option for the system, so NIF retired most of its legacy storage and deployed NetApp FAS3250 and FAS3220 storage systems running the clustered Data ONTAP operating system to provide nondisruptive operations.

“Each time the laser is fired at a target, nonrelational object data produced by scientific instruments (about 50TB per year) is captured in files on network-attached storage, which must be accessible 24/7 for physicists to analyze,” McNamara writes. “Algorithms then generate representations of the x-rays, plasmas, and other scientific phenomena that are stored as relational data in Oracle databases.

“An eight-node NetApp cluster stores the virtual machine operating system images, while a four-node NetApp cluster stores scientific data in Hierarchical Data Format (HDF) to be ingested to Oracle SecureFiles. 800 Linux virtual machines connect to the NetApp NFS cluster over a 10GbE network.

“NetApp’s unified scale-out architecture allowed NIF to maintain constant availability for very large amounts of data. NIF anticipates eliminating up to 60 hours of planned downtime annually, maximizing facility availability. In addition, all of the NetApp storage systems can be managed as a single logical pool that can seamlessly scale to tens of petabytes and thousands of volumes.”

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