Energy's 12T SAN supplies easy, fast access to a 3-D map of the universe

(Photo courtesy of NOAO/AURA/NSF and T.A. Rector and B.A. Wolpa)

Building a 3-D map of the universe takes a lot of data. So astronomers working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey have built a 12T storage area network at the Energy Department's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The surveyors are imaging about a quarter of the sky with a telescope in central New Mexico to pinpoint the locations and brightness of 100 million celestial objects.

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Jim Annis, an associate scientist at the Batavia, Ill., lab, said the storage system had to balance two needs: easy random access to specific data and fast access to large amounts of data.

The latter is important in identifying galaxy clusters.

The surveyors chose the SANnet 4220 series RAID controller from Dot Hill Systems Corp. of Carlsbad, Calif., in a dual-level RAID configuration.

The system incorporates a Beowulf-type cluster of 10 dual-processor servers running Linux.

The Sistina Global File System from Sistina Software Inc. of Minneapolis lets multiple computers on the SAN access files on a single disk.

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