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University of Nottingham Upgrades HPC Center

The University of Nottingham in England has upgraded its high performance computing (HPC) center with a 240-terabyte parallel storage system to assist researchers in the computer science, pharmacy, and engineering departments.

The new system is an ActiveStor 12 from Panasas, and it isn't the university's first experience with Panasas ActiveStor. The university first implemented a Panasas ActiveStor 7 in 2007 because of performance problems with its previous storage system.

"We saw a big improvement in performance with the acquisition of Panasas ActiveStor," said Chris Booth, senior systems developer at the university, in a prepared statement. "Also, our previous storage system went down about once a month. ActiveStor has never gone down--ever."

Among the most demanding users of the system are the researchers in the university's Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Department. They require a high-performance computer cluster and parallel storage to simulate the motion of proteins in order to understand diseases and develop drugs to prevent or fight them, a process that can involve trillions of time-steps to map the movements of each protein.

"Our simulations are computationally challenging, but with the new high performance computer systems and ActiveStor parallel storage, we're starting to make some progress," said Professor Jonathan Hirst, head of the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Department, in a prepared statement. "Reliability and unflagging storage performance are indispensable for our research."

According to Panasas, the ActiveStor 12 parallel storage system offers performance of up to 150 GB per second, performance and capacity scaling, single point of management, and object RAID (redundant array of independent disks) with RAID levels assigned on a per-file basis.

According to Booth, the university has found the system easy to configure and manage. "We don't have a dedicated storage administrator, so it's essential that our systems don't take a lot of time and effort to manage," he said.

The University of Nottingham is a public research university and operates seven campuses: five in England, one in China, and one in Malaysia. The university serves more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students in its faculties of arts, science, social science, engineering, and medicine and health sciences.

Further information about Panasas ActivStor is available at

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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