US nuclear laboratory supercomputer packs a punch

Petascale supercomputer held at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory

More details about the hardware held at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory has emerged: it uses Panasas clustered file storage for its petascale nuclear weapons testing supercomputer.

A petascale supercomputer computes at the petaflop level - ten to the power 15 or one million billion floating point operations per second. Parallel supercomputers need parallelized I/O so that the many computing elements can be fed data fast enough to keep them operating at maximum speed.

Serial network-attached storage (NAS) products are not fast enough and clustered file system products, such as Isilon's have emerged to speed data delivery

LANL set up the very first (Cray) supercomputer which ran at 80Mflops. It now uses Panasas storage to supply seven terascale - meaning the one thousand billion FLOPS level - supercomputers with data, and is building the Roadrunner hybrid petascale supercomputer from AMD Opteron and IBM Cell processors, both running Linux.

A single Panasas ActiveStor storage cluster is shared globally between LANL's terascale supercomputers. There is more than 1PB of storage capacity with approximately 50Gbit/s of input/output. "We've been using Panasas storage for a long time at LANL to provide scalable and globally-shared storage to multiple terascale clusters," said Gary Grider, group leader for the High Performance Computing (HPC) systems integration at Los Alamos. "We will leverage (it) to provide the I/O solution for the Roadrunner system."

Interest in petascale computing environments is growing with a Petascale Data Storage computing institute being set up. There is a trend for petascale HPC to move to extreme enterprise computing environments such as Google,, MS Live, Amazon, Weta Digital, and so on. As both data size and data rates need to grow for more general business applications then parallelized and clustered I/O will be seen there too.

Sun, for example, is offering clustered storage and embedded processing to the medical imaging market with its StorageTek 5800 product.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Mellor
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?