LSI upgrades Sandia Supercomputer with storage

By Courtney E. Howard

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.–Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., are upgrading Red Storm, one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, with high-performance storage.

Engineers at Sandia, home to a stockpile of U.S. nuclear weapons intelligence, sought to boost the performance and reliability of the firm’s Red Storm supercomputer. They needed to update Red Storm not only to better meet the computing demands of nuclear weapons simulations, but also to provide reliable, consistent service.

“National laboratories use supercomputers to answer some of the nation’s most complex scientific and engineering questions,” says Jim Tomkins, a senior scientist/engineer at Sandia. “In the case of Red Storm, we use it to run simulations that help us understand what is going on in a variety of complex areas.”

Sandia engineers installed 20 InfiniteStorage 4600 storage solutions, able to store more than 1.8 petabytes of scientific data, from SGI in Sunnyvale, Calif. The SGI InfiniteStorage 4600 is based on the Engenio 7900 HPC storage system from LSI Corp. in Milpitas, Calif.

“Storage is a key part of the overall system,” Tomkins adds. “It allows computations to be completed even though failures have occurred in the computer system, and is also used to store the simulation results so that they can be examined later.”

Red Storm is a massively parallel processor computer jointly developed by Cray Inc. and Sandia National Laboratories, part of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
Click here to enlarge image

Engineers selected the 4600 solution based on its ability to deliver a sustained data transfer rate of 70 gigabytes per second, as well as continuous access to the system’s disk storage with no loss of user data for a period of more than eight weeks.

“Storage performance is critical to maximizing supercomputing efficiency,” says Steve Hochberg, senior director of the high-performance computing (HPC) segment at LSI. The newly installed storage system is expected to decrease the system down time of the Red Storm, capable of more than 280 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second).

“Few scientific missions are more crucial to national security than the continuous monitoring of our nuclear arsenal,” admits Kurt Kuckein, InfiniteStorage product line manager at Silicon Graphics. SGI worked with LSI and Abba Technologies in Albuquerque, N.M., to deliver a high-performance storage solution to Sandia that will “reliably meet their needs today, while providing a solid foundation for future projects,” he says.

For more information, visit SGI, LSI Corp., or Abba Technologies online at,, and, respectively.

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