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IBM Building a 120 Petabyte Data Drive

by Emily Price | August 30, 2011August 30, 2011 11:00 pm PDT

Researchers at IBM‘s Alman researcher lab in California are reportedly at work on what, when completed, will be the world’s largest hard drive. The drive, boasting a massive 120 petabytes (120 million GB spread out on 200,000 hard drives) will be capable of holding 24 billion MP3s when its all said and done, or up to 60 copies of the Internet archive Wayback Machine, which currently stores over 150 billion archives of webpages.

So why would you do with a 120 PETAbyte hard drive? The drive is designed to be used to companies rather than individuals, and could be particularly useful for cloud computing where lots of people need access to the same storage site simultaneously.

Steve Conway, a vice president of research with the analyst firm IDC said to TechnologyReview “A 120-petabye storage array would easily be the largest I’ve encountered,” he says. The largest arrays available today are about 15 petabytes in size. Supercomputing problems that could benefit from more data storage include weather forecasts, seismic processing in the petroleum industry, and molecular studies of genomes or proteins”

The high-tech hard drive also stores multiple copies of files on multiple disks, allowing it to keep running even if one part of the giant disk array fails.

“When a lone disk dies, the system pulls data from other drives and writes it to the disk’s replacement slowly, so the supercomputer can continue working. If more failures occur among nearby drives, the rebuilding process speeds up to avoid the possibility that yet another failure occurs and wipes out some data permanently” according to  Bruce Hillsberg, director of storage research at IBM and leader of the project. According to Hillsberg the system “ should not lose any data for a million years without making any compromises on performance.”

[via TechnologyReview]

Emily Price

Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...