The Ames Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is using 10,240 processors and four Gigabit per sec Brocade SilkWorm switches to connect its Columbia supercomputer to 600 terabytes of fibre channel RAID storage.

Scientists use the world’s largest supercomputer for extremely sophisticated computational problems that generate huge amounts of data, and the storage srea network (SAN) infrastructure helps ensure optimal performance for applications accessing that critical data.

With its peak processing power of more than 60 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraflops), the powerful supercomputer has increased NASA’s computing capability tenfold, boosting the agency’s high-end computing infrastructure.

“Our Brocade SAN switches are instrumental in fulfilling NASA’s mission to advance knowledge and space exploration,” said Alan Powers of Computer Sciences, under contract at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at NASA Ames Research Centre. “By operating one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, NASA Ames requires an extremely robust storage infrastructure. The Brocade systems ensure that the terabytes of data that Columbia produces are stored reliably and quickly, giving researchers prompt access to the information for analyses.”

The new SAN systems will help to increase access rates to advanced research data for Earth and space science stored on Columbia. Terrestrial-based studies include the modelling of global climate conditions, the impact of cloud systems on climate, the flow and effects of salinity on oceans, and the mechanisms of earthquakes. Space science investigations include modelling the formation of the early universe, the development of the solar system, the behaviour of supernovae, and the collision of two black holes to learn about extreme gravitational waves.