News | September 15, 2014

NCSA Adds 20PB Storage Capacity To World's Largest File Repository

Reaffirms Tape as Ideal Deep Storage Platform for Exponential Data

Spectra Logic announced recently that the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) has increased the capacity of the Spectra tape libraries that support the Blue Waters project, which is one of the world’s largest, most powerful supercomputers. The NCSA expanded its tape active archive capacity with the recent addition of 20 petabytes, and cited Spectra’s high performance, ease of use, affordability, scalability and excellent support received during the organizations’ two-year partnership.

“Scalability was a key requirement for the Blue Waters project, and tape is the best platform to address the age of exponential data growth,” said Michelle Butler, senior technical program manager of National Center for Supercomputing Applications. “A 500PB disk system would have been financially astronomical and required a major migration every three years. The long shelf life of tape – up to ten years for tape drives and 50 years for tape media – was a valuable benefit to ensure data accessibility and reliability at an affordable cost.”

The Blue Waters project is designed to meet the compute, memory and data-intensive, needs of multiple scientists and engineers. NCSA uses four 19-frame Spectra T-Finity tape libraries to provide 100 percent of the near-line tape data storage for its Blue Waters supercomputing system. Spectra T-Finity tape libraries provide the Blue Waters project with the ability to keep all near-line data accessible in an active repository, perform automated Data Integrity Verification for the data store, and deliver high performance read/write rates of up to 61 gigabytes per second. Each of the four Spectra libraries installed utilizes IBM’s enterprise-class TS1140 tape drive technology. This technology offers 150 percent higher performance than midrange tape drives and provides the NCSA with enterprise-class reliability, high capacity and a strong roadmap for the future.

“High performance computing environments struggle with the triple challenges of data retention, archive changes and unpredictable growth – a trifecta that tape library storage solutions are uniquely suited to address,” said Brian Grainger, executive vice president of sales and sales operations worldwide. “Spectra Logic’s tape libraries are addressing HPC-market dilemmas in more than 70 large HPC sites in 15 countries worldwide including Australian National University, CSIRO, EPCC and NASA Ames.”

For more information about NCSA’s Spectra Logic solution, visit:

  • Infographic: NCSA Blue Waters and Spectra Logic
  • NCSA Case Study: NCSA helps scientists achieve breakthroughs in a broad range of phenomena including nanotechnology and the Big Bang with Spectra’s state-of-the-art active archive
  • NCSA Video: Installing the Blue Waters archive

About Blue Waters
NCSA’s Blue Waters is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, and is the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. Scientists and engineers across the USA use the computing and data power of Blue Waters to tackle a wide range of challenging problems, from predicting the behavior of complex biological systems to simulating the evolution of the cosmos. Blue Waters uses hundreds of thousands of computational cores to achieve peak performance of more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second. If you could multiply two numbers together every second, it would take you millions of years to do what Blue Waters does each second.

About Spectra Logic Corporation
Spectra Logic develops deep storage solutions that solve the problem of long term storage for business and technology professionals dealing with exponential data growth. Dedicated solely to storage innovation for more than 35 years, Spectra Logic’s uncompromising product and customer focus is proven by the largest information users in multiple vertical markets globally. Spectra enables affordable, multi-decade data storage and access by creating new methods of managing information in all forms of deep storage—including archive, backup, cold storage, cloud and private cloud. For more information, visit

Source: Spectra Logic