Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Data storage and retrieval in the "Internet cloud"

This month's issue of Wired includes an article "The Information Factories" - the piece is subcaptioned, "The desktop is dead. Welcome to the Internet cloud, where massive facilities across the globe will store all the data you'll ever use. George Gilder on the dawning of the petabyte age."

The article discusses the Google datacenters and Ask.com, including storage capacity, power consumption, plans for growth, and the potential impact of future developments in computing power and data storage.

"According to Bell's law, every decade a new class of computer emerges from a hundredfold drop in the price of processing power. As we approach a billionth of a cent per byte of storage, and pennies per gigabit per second of bandwidth, what kind of machine labors to be born?

How will we feed it?

How will it be tamed?

And how soon will it, in its inevitable turn, become a dinosaur?

One characteristic of this new machine is clear. It arises from a world measured in the prefix giga, but its operating environment is the petascale. We're all petaphiles now, plugged into a world of petabytes, petaops, petaflops. Mouthing the prefix peta (signifying numbers of the magnitude 10 to the 15th power, a million billion) and the Latin verb petere (to search), we are doubly petacentric in our peregrinations through the hypertrophic network cloud."

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