AMSTAR is Born

By Staff
11/12/2008 - 12:00am

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) today announced the arrival of a massive new digital storage library that will preserve and protect valuable scientific data for the next 15 to 20 years. The new system, known as AMSTAR and designed by Sun Microsystems, will give NCAR five times its current storage capacity, enabling scientists to conduct increasingly sophisticated computer studies of Earth's climate.


AMSTAR, which stands for NCAR's Augmentation of the Mass Storage Tape Archive Resources, is a new digital storage library that will preserve and protect valuable scientific research. The library, a Sun StorageTek SL8500 Modular Library System, will give NCAR up to 30 petabytes of storage capacity in addition to achieving higher speeds without increasing power requirements. This is a five-fold increase over the previous system.

NCAR's data archive, located at the Mesa Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, is one of the largest archives in the world dedicated to geoscience research. It holds international and irreplaceable historic climate records, data from field experiments and observations, and information gathered from weather stations, ships, planes, and satellites.

The bulk of NCAR's Mass Store System (MSS) data is generated by global climate simulations, weather models, and other Earth systems models that run on NCAR's supercomputers. Data archival demands continually grow as simulations become more sophisticated, and as atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land cover climate models are combined into increasingly detailed runs.

The capacity and design of the Sun Storage products allows NCAR to connect the SL8500 Modular Library Systems to its MSS without having to rewrite any code. The system uses Sun StorageTek T10000B tape drives to store the data, with each tape capable of holding up to a terabyte (1,024 gigabytes) of data. That's the equivalent of 223,101 DVDs, or over 8,730 iPod Classics.

At a transfer rate of about 140 megabytes per second, it will take 18 months to completely move all the data from NCAR's last system to AMSTAR.

See the video demonstration »


How many bytes does it take?
   Bytes per Petabyte
   Bytes per DVD
   DVDs per Petabyte
   Height of a 1 Petabyte stack of cased DVDs, in meters
   Bytes of information in the DNA of a single human being
   Bytes per 750GB hard drive