Stanford University Deploys SGI Solutions to Accelerate Research on Solar Variability

Solar Dynamic Observatory Satellite Generates 3TB of Data Daily, Relies on SGI® Server and Storage Technology to Process Critical Information

FREMONT, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — August 25, 2010SGI (NASDAQ: SGI), a global leader in HPC and data center solutions, today announced that the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory Solar Observatories Group at Stanford University has selected SGI server and storage infrastructure to support the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) group’s critical research on the origin of solar variability. The SDO strives to understand the characteristics of the Sun’s interior and the components of its magnetic activity to help forecast space weather, and relies on SGI’s technology to receive, process and archive massive amounts of data.

Every day an SDO satellite transmits 1.4 terabytes (TB) of raw data back to Earth for processing into high-definition images for study. SDO has developed and deployed a hybrid Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) system, which selectively archives key data for future retrieval and use. This hybrid HSM greatly reduces the sets of tapes needed to mount and restore a specific event, like a solar flare, recorded as part of this project’s research.

“For the first time, scientists are able to comprehensively view the dynamic nature of storms on the Sun. The immense amount of data collected during our research requires a powerful HPC solution capable of ingesting and analyzing data quickly and with precision,” said Phil Scherrer, principal investigator, Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, Stanford University. “SGI provides us with the computing and storage infrastructure to seamlessly accomplish our research and help us predict solar events.”

To manage this daily data influx, SDO’s hybrid HSM utilizes SGI high performance computing (HPC) server and storage products, including: SGI® Altix® XE 340 server cluster, SGI® InfiniteStorage NAS 4550, SGI® InfiniteStorage 10000 and Spectra Logic T950 tape library. Together, these products provide three petabytes (PB) of total online and near-line storage, and are able to consolidate, process and quickly access satellite data to enable accurate predictions of space weather from solar activity.

“SGI is pleased to provide Stanford University and SDO with the tools required to productively handle such massive amounts of data. The goal of this data flow design is to remove impediments to scientific insight and discovery,” said Dr. Eng Lim Goh, senior vice president and CTO at SGI. “HPC involves much more than just computing power, especially for such a data intensive program. With Stanford’s selection of SGI, we add a renowned scientific organization to our list of customers on the cutting edge of exploration.”

SDO provides a daily torrent of new information and spectacular images of the Sun for interpretation, and the SDO mission will operate for at least five years, resulting in approximately 1PB of data stored per year. Scientists are able to measure, characterize and process data based on solar variations using SGI technology solutions and powerful NASA instrumentation. Stanford’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) measures the Sun’s surface to allow study of activity under the surface. In tandem, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument obtains eight high-resolution images every 10 seconds and transmits the data back to Earth.

About SGI

SGI is a global leader in large-scale clustered computing, high performance storage, HPC and data center enablement and services. SGI is focused on helping customers solve their most demanding business and technology challenges. Visit for more information.

About NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

The Solar Dynamics Observatory is the first mission to be launched for NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) Program, which is designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. SDO is designed to help understand the Sun's influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously. SDO's goal is to understand, driving towards a predictive capability, the solar variations that influence life on Earth and humanity's technological systems. SDO’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager and Atmosphere Imaging Assembly instruments are collaborative projects between Stanford University and the Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory.

©2010 SGI. SGI and Altix are registered trademarks or trademarks of Silicon Graphics International Corp or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective holders.


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