120 Petabyte Data Drive!

Source: Engadget.com

It may not be Gadget & Tech Thursday, but I just couldn’t resist posting about this article I found on Engadget this morning.

An unnamed client has contracted IBM to build the world’s biggest data drive for a supercomputer for “detailed simulations of real-world phenomena.” This supercomputer’s 120 PB drive will be eight times larger than the previous record holder (15 PB). To put that into perspective, the data drive would be able to hold 24 billion MP3s or 60 copies of the 150 billion page backup of the Web! Or as one Engadget commenter put it, “Is that not roughly 89,478,000,000 floppy disks.”

The thousands of water-cooled disks that make up the data drive distribute single files over multiple disks with several copies of each file on other disks. It’s like RAID on steroids, allowing the supercomputer to read and write different portions of the file at the same time, speeding up data access. In the event that a disk fails (which they all will eventually), the mirrored data on other disks is slowly copied to the replacement disk, and the supercomputer chugs along without slowing. When a cluster of disks begins to fail, where permanent data loss is a possibility, the system speeds up this rebuilding process. With these enhancements, IBM claims that the system “should not lose any data for a million years without making any compromises on performance.”

Looking at my storage system, with copies of files strewn about over more than 16 hard drives, all I can say is, “I want this. Now.” Well, maybe I don’t need all 120 petabytes, but I could really use their data management system.

As for the unnamed client, the first entity that comes to mind is a government agency. But with so many governments deep in debt, this doesn’t seem likely. So who could it be? Google? Apple? Microsoft? A university with deep pockets? A shell corporation for a mad scientist? What do you think?

Source: MIT Technology Review via Engadget

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