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IBM Builds Monster 120-Petabyte Data "Drive"

The data storage group at IBM's Almaden, California, research lab is currently building a 120 petabyte drive comprised of 200,000 conventional hard disk drives working together. The team is throwing this storage monster together for an unnamed client that needs a new supercomputer for detailed simulations of real-world phenomena (like weather, climate changes etc).

Despite the insane capacity, the technologies that were developed to handle the monstrous repository could enable similar systems for more conventional commercial computing, claims Bruce Hillsberg, director of storage research at IBM and leader of the project. "This 120 petabyte system is on the lunatic fringe now, but in a few years it may be that all cloud computing systems are like it."

The technology behind the 120 petabyte "drive" includes modified horizontal drawers stacked inside typical data center racks which are significantly wider so that more disks can be crammed into nearly the same amount of physical space. The IBM engineers also ditched the standard fan setup as a cooling system, and went with a more reliable liquid cooling design to keep the drives chilled and to reduce the overall energy consumption

In addition to modifying the rack system, IBM also developed a file system known as GPFS to enable supercomputers faster data access. This new file system spreads individual files throughout multiple disks so that numerous parts of a file can be read or written simultaneously. GPFS also enables a large system to keep track of its many files without "laboriously" scanning through every one. Ultimately this system on a whole is not expected to lose any data for a million years without making any compromises on performance.

Hillsberg added that keeping track of the names, types, and other attributes of the files stored in the system will consume around two petabytes of its capacity. To put this number in perspective, 120 petabytes equals to 120 million gigabytes which theoretically could hold 24 billion 5MB MP3 files or 60 copies of the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine.

To read more about IBM's 120 petabyte drive, head here.

  • burnley14
    They built this for me. I have a pretty big music library. . .
    Reply
  • NapoleonDK
    It's for porn, obviously. =\ The new ".xxx" domain now has a home.

    Also, inb4 "can I install Crysis?" XD
    Reply
  • daygall
    thats alot of pron O_O

    on a more serious note *cough*

    cant wait for more miniaturization :D 3tb now hopefully 6-8 in by 2015... baring the Apocalypse lol
    Reply
  • bavman
    "unnamed client" = someone with too much porn and not enough harddrive estate
    Reply
  • techseven
    Advanced tagging, mapping and storage of porn?

    120 Petabytes = 120.000 Terabytes / 2TB per drive would equal 60.000 2TB drives, but they store it on 200.000 drives?

    120.000 Terabytes / 200.000 drives = 600MB per drive. So they must need all these drives to make it fast enough...?
    Reply
  • zanny
    daygallthats alot of pron O_Oon a more serious note *cough*cant wait for more miniaturization 3tb now hopefully 6-8 in by 2015... baring the Apocalypse lol
    We have been pushing the limits of mechanical disk reading lasers. Blue spectrum is the smallest imprint we are going to get, and the data error limits on drives past 3 terabytes are really small, in that it is very likely to have a bad sector somewhere on the disk by that point.
    Reply
  • oparadoxical_
    techseven120 Petabytes = 120.000 Terabytes / 2TB per drive would equal 60.000 2TB drives, but they store it on 200.000 drives?120.000 Terabytes / 200.000 drives = 600MB per drive. So they must need all these drives to make it fast enough...?Actually, 120 petabytes=122,880Tb which equals 61,440 individual 2Tb HDDs.
    Then, the 122,880tb=125,829,120Gb and if you divide that by 200,000, you get about 630gb per HDD.
    Reply
  • PennyLife
    I can only imagine two different types of entities that would want to purchase this:

    - A military agency, OR

    - A company that is preparing for and aiming to be a big provider of cloud services.
    Reply
  • Pyree
    In raid 0 (good luck finding the 1 drive which fails)!



    Only joking, of course they won't be in raid 0.
    Reply
  • jsanthara
    Do you think it will cost more than $150, because I have a little over $300 and I want to buy 2.
    Reply