Saturday, October 1, 2011

IBM 120 Petabyte 'Drive'

This is file #2 of what I'll label as being the lost blog entries. A file created on August 31st 2011, published for the first time...right now, October 2nd 2011. I hope you enjoy it.

A project being undertaken by IBM being discussed on an online message board the other night got my attention - A 120 Petabyte Hard Disk Drive run by using 200,000 regular computer hard drives. I ran a search of the topic on an online search engine and there were news stories about it claiming it to be the biggest of its kind.

Frankly, I was underwhelmed. Compare me to the likes of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, but when you break it down, those 200,000 HDD's are packing on average just under 630GB (from memory of my earlier calculations), which for hard drives selling on the market today is talking the lower end of storage capacity. For about 5c per GB that 2 Terabyte HDD's retail for, this project is (not factoring in labor for installation and setup, nor electricity requirements) is the range of about $6 million dollars - A lot of money for everyday people but spare change to, I would imagine, the product that this storage system is making available.

In the news story, it is speculated that in the near future cloud computer infrastructure will incorporate storage systems like this project as an industry standard. I wonder when the 1TB 'thumb' drive will be available. I am still fascinated about the storage capacity of not only SD cards but MicroSD cards. I am amazed that movies that were once in massive film canisters and in VHS cassettes now fit on the size of a fingernail (no piracy).

The largest HDD I have now is 2TB (less formatted) as well as a portable 640GB HDD powered by USB alone. Master the possibilities!


  1. My hard drive is 500gb but the laptop was also pretty cheap. I want an external but so far all I have is the hard drive from my old laptop hooked up as an external, it's pretty cool though. I'm now tempted to try and put old movies on my fingernails lol. This will mean having to give up bathing but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

  2. 630 may be the low end on consumer drives but it is close to the top end of commercial sas drives. Faster spindles and rated for longer lives. I doubt that it was commodity hardware, and that they used drive shelves connected to a sas network. Figure 8 ports per card and 16 or so drives per shelve. Depending on the manufacturer you can chain the drive selves so maybe 2 or 3 deep per channel 16*3*8 and then 4 cards in a system would give you the ability to address 1500 drives on a single system. Massive scale is really a pain in the ass because of communication bottlenecks. Just ask anyone that uses Fibre channel. Your SAN fabric will make or break your whole system no matter how fast your spindles are.

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