Cray launched an integrated file system that transfers more than 1 trillion characters of information a second. And it replaced IBM as the computing power behind a science project intended to push the limits of memory, data management and speed of processing.

The new Cray Sonexion 1300 storage device incorporates a file system called Lustre designed for high-performance work loads and big mounds of data. The system can expand from 50 trillion numbers and letters stored, to more than 50 quadrillion, with no loss in speed.

Data transfers occur at rates of more than one trillion characters a second, aka 1 terabyte. Network and storage applications that work at 10 gigabits a second, today, are transferring data at 10 billion bits a second.

Cray's new storage system combines powerful servers and parallel file management.

The Cray Sonexion 1300 storage system will be part of the Blue Waters supercomputer being developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois.

“The Cray Sonexion installation at NCSA will provide more than a terabyte-per-second of sustained input-output performance," said Bill Kramer of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois.

"More and more of our customers have expressed a need for increased performance, reliability and manageability from storage systems that can be shared with their highest performance, mission critical systems in their datacenter," said Barry Bolding, Cray's vice president of storage and data management.

The low-end of the product line starts at under $250,000, Cray said, and can work on InfiniBand connections.

Blue Waters will be composed of more than 235 Cray XE6 computing “cabinets” based on the AMD Opteron 6200 Series processor and more than 30 cabinets of a future version of the Cray XK6 supercomputer.

That next XK6 will use NVIDIA Tesla graphics processing units. Such GPUS are being used in the advanced trading applications on Wall Street, to improve the speed of executing complex algorithms and trading strategies.

The project will attempt to push the bounds of scientific and engineering computation by modeling such phenomena as nanotechnology's minute molecular assemblies, the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang, the damage caused by earthquakes and the formation of tornadoes, the mechanism by which viruses enter cells, and improved climate change predictions.

The “extreme-scale” system is designed to be a blueprint for petascale computers, where quadrillions of pieces of data are processed every second.

Blue Waters should be fully deployed by the end of 2012.

Cray replaced IBM in the Blue Waters project. Big Blue pulled out in August citing unexpected financial and technical costs. Cray will receive $188 million for its contributions to Blue Waters.

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