Flashes of light and Flash Storage help unlock the secrets of matter

If you ever travel through the Oxfordshire countryside in the UK you may come across the Harwell Scientific and Innovation Campus and the Rutherford Appleton laboratory. Named after those two exceptional scientists Ernest Rutherford one of the great experimentalists, the first to model the atom and nuclear reactions and Edward Appleton, winner of the Nobel prize for physics. The Harwell Science and Innovation Park has seen some dramatic changes  with the appearance  of something that looks like a giant silver flying saucer (UFO) in the fields near the facility. Frankly it looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is very real, and has a purpose that delivers amazing benefits to mankind.


This giant silver flying saucer is in fact a Synchrotron run by Diamond Light Source Ltd. Which I know probably doesn't mean anything,  but a Synchrotron is another type of particle accelerator. A Synchrotron is designed to produce brilliant flashes of light. These flashes of light are 10 billion times brighter than our sun and are produced by accelerating and bending beams of electrons in magnetic fields. Like we used to do with Cathode Ray Tubes in our old TV sets and computer monitors - remember them !!!


It is the beams of light, or beamlines, that the physicists are after. So brilliant is the light produced that it can be used to analyze materials in ultra fine detail from infra-red right up to X-Rays. Revealed is the structure right down to the molecular level. The outcome is a device that is 10,000 times more sensitive than a standard microscope. The Synchrotron is therefore an incredibly powerful research tool into areas such as deceases, new vaccines and analysis of aircraft engine parts.


As with all particle accelerators the amounts of data generated are huge. Have a look at our previous success story from the LHC at CERN for an example of data volumes produced by these beasts..


Critical to the operation is the time required to post process and analyse the data from the beamline reaserch, and produce the results. To accelerate this process Diamond Light Source were looking for a solution that would provide fast caching for data coming from the detectors on the beamlines, destined for their central storage. They selected  2 x NetApp EF540 All Flash Arrays to do the job as they needed a solution that could service the performance driven applications with very low latency and a high level of resiliency.


They found that the EF540 provided the extreme performance they were looking for, delivering over 300,000 IOPs and 6GBps throughput. Space, power and cooling were cut by up to 95%. While other key factors in the selection process were the ease with which the EF540 can scale to meet future expansion requirements.


In Summary the EF540 All Flash Array benefits checked in as:


  • Reliable
  • Amazingly quick
  • Easy to Scale
  • Easy to Manage
  • Great Price point
  • Very Competitive


There is a clear trend here as NetApp EF Series All Flash Arrays help scientists with extreme performance and latency requirements get to results quicker. Another example can be found in my previous Blog where the NetApp EF540 is helping the pharmaceutical scientists at UCB rapidly turnaround clinical trial results.


UCB Success Story:

EF540 All Flash Array:

EF550 All Flash Array:

Diamond Light Source Success Story: See attached pdf


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