26th January 2022 How Toshiba HDDs have helped CERN keep track of their generated data

How three generations of Toshiba HDDs have helped CERN scale up their data storage requirements with innovative and reliable solutions.

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Toshiba have been developing HDDs for 50 years, building a reputation for innovation and reliability. This use case looks at how three generations of Toshiba HDDs have helped CERN keep track of the hundreds of terabytes of data produced by LHC experiments every second.

The world’s largest physics experiment

Everyone has heard of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (otherwise known as LHC). It is at the forefront of physics research, famously demonstrating the existence of previously undetected subatomic particles in its first phases or “runs”.

The sheer size of the experiment staggers belief. The LHC itself is a giant circular particle accelerator with a radius an astonishing 4.3 km wide. And as many as 1 billion particle collisions can take place every second inside the LHC experiment’s detectors.

The level of data that LHC generated

Experiments on this scale capture huge amounts of data. The collisions themselves generate a staggering 1PB of data every second. Even once they have filtered the data down to interesting events, the CERN facility needs 10PB of data to be stored every month.

The CERN Data Centre connects with the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) of about 170 data centres for analysis. The current storage setup at CERN consists of HDD buffers with 3,200 JBODs carrying 100,000 hard disk drives (HDDs) providing a total of 350PB.

CERN’s storage needs increase quickly

The compute and storage demands of the LHC machine have always pushed the boundaries of storage. And in 2014 CERN began using Toshiba hard drives, as they required HDDs with high-performance, high reliability, and the highest capacity to be at the heart of their needs.

In 2015/2016 CERN began Run 2 of their experiment, greatly increasing their storage needs. CERN used Toshiba’s new generation 6TB SATA model MG04ACA600E, installed in a 24 Bay 4U Front loader JBOD, bringing the total raw capacity up to 144TB per unit.

CERN continue to scale up with Toshiba

After 2016, Toshiba developed new high-capacity enterprise HDD models in response to global cloud storage needs, launching two new generations – the MG05 and MG06. The MG06 alone became available with capacities of up to 10TB per drive.

Toshiba then launched the MG07 range in 2018, the world’s first server HDDs with up to 14TB. The MG07 increases the capacity without changing the form factor by using helium rather than air. At the same time CERN’s storage required upgrading again, and they purchased the 12TB variant of the MG07, doubling capacity per JBOD to 288TB.

CERN prepares for the demands of Run 3

The LHC machine was shut down again in 2019 to install further upgrades before restarting in preparation for Run 3, now scheduled for 2022. This has created another significant increase in storage demands, with the acceleration in data generated from the experiments.

Toshiba’s products continue to support and meet CERN’s stringent requirements. In terms of computing power and storage capacity, Toshiba has scaled successfully with CERN’s storage and compute, making maximum use of Toshiba’s high capacity and reliable hard disk drives.

Toshiba continue to develop and innovate

The successful deployment and operation of three generations of Toshiba Enterprise HDDs within CERN’s challenging IT environment and increasing demands, demonstrates how suitable Toshiba products are for large scale data centre storage.

Toshiba is developing a next-generation magnetic recording technology, which will further extend capacities to exceed 20TB per HDD. They are confident that this new generation will again help to solve CERN’s future scaling challenges in storage capacity and reliability.

Read the full case study here. If you want to know more about Toshiba HDD solutions, then contact our Exertis Enterprise specialists today at disk@exertisenterprise.com.