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Data Storage Hardware

The Ultimate All-In-One Storage Solution 387

karnifex writes "Filled up your LaCie Bigger Disk already, and looking for a little more storage space? Good news! The Petabox is ready! 'The petabox by the Internet Archive is a machine designed to safely store and process one petabyte of information (a petabyte is a million gigabytes).' And luckily, as the Internet Archive notes, it's shipping-container friendly (20' x 8' x 8'). So save on delivery costs and order two!"
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The Ultimate All-In-One Storage Solution

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  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:02PM (#9121801)
    My million monkeys at a million terminals will have somewher to save all their potential Shakespeare works.
    But the question is, do my monkeys use VI or Emacs? That shall remain a mystery.
  • Imagine all the Spice Girls' songs you could save on that
  • by david_reese ( 460043 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:03PM (#9121812)
    but I heard that all you can store on there are


  • Business idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by j_hirny ( 305473 )
    Maybe someone should try to sell these boxes to GMail? They will surely need a lot of storage space.
    • Re:Business idea (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 )
      I suspect google is more interested in building a platform that would be a competitor to this product. For the device in this article they estimate 1 FTE (full-time-employee) for each petabyte of storage. That doesn't sound so good. Google's system will apparently replicate and migrate data betwen units as necessary so you never need to replace drives at all; the maximum capacity just degrades slowly with time. Perhaps when it gets to 80% original capacity you just roll in a newer unit (which is proba
  • by llin ( 54970 )
    I didn't notice a price specified. Am I just not seeing it? Anyone in a position to give details?
    • Re:Price? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you have to ask, you can't afford it. Just remember that. It might come in handy again someday. :)
      • Re:Price? (Score:3, Informative)

        From the forum []:

        Rack materials cost is currently estimated to be $121K for 96TB. Node materials are a just under $1450. This price does not include markup, assembly or burn-in from the system integrator and thus will increase by another 5-7% to approximately $130K/rack.

        So, about $1.3M (10 racks)

        cLive ;-)

        • Re:Price? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by theLOUDroom ( 556455 )
          So, about $1.3M (10 racks)

          What would be interesting is to know the estimated maintenance costs as well. With than many drives, I imagine you'd be changing them like light bulbs, especially as time passes and the probability of each drive failing get's higher and higher.

          If one was really clever, they could use the failure rate of a typical hard disk and Moore's Law to estimate monthly replacement costs for the next 100 years or so. I would expect them to rise in the short term as the drives age, but
    • Re:Price? (Score:5, Informative)

      by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:20PM (#9122009)
      In the "discussion" blocks down below there's a price link.

      Rack materials cost is currently estimated to be $121K for 96TB. Node materials are a just under $1450. This price does not include markup, assembly or burn-in from the system integrator and thus will increase by another 5-7% to approximately $130K/rack.

      The weight of a fully-loaded rack is estimated to be 1500 lbs. That figure may rise depending on what hardware is required for rack cooling.

      Power is estimated to be 5500 watts. This too will depend on rack level cooling equipment.

      These figures assume no external 1G Ethernet NICs.

      For a breakdown of all the above, see the attached spreadsheet.
  • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:05PM (#9121834) Homepage
    How many LOCs/VW Bug?
  • Petabox is ready! (Score:5, Informative)

    by KevinKnSC ( 744603 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:06PM (#9121838)
    Good news! The Petabox is ready!

    From the article:
    PILOT STATUS 5/2004
    * The first 100TB Rack is up and running!
    * The second 100TB Rack will be up by the end of May

    Apparently this is some new use of the word "ready" with which I am not familiar. Neat technology, no doubt, but it doesn't really look like it's ready for prime time just yet.

  • In 10 years ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob Loblaw ( 545027 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:06PM (#9121840)
    Will we find one of these things in eBay in 10 years selling for $10 and feel all nostalgic about those days when that amount of storage media was the size of a room?
    • Re:In 10 years ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:43PM (#9122232)
      It does make you nostalgic thinking about things like that. I have more storage on a tiny card in my digital camera right now than every computer in the computer lab at my Jr. High had combined. My cell phone is more powerful than my first desktop computer. I can download in 5 minutes what would have taken me a month to download back then. Ah, technology.
      • Every hard drive I've ever bought has been larger than all my previous hard drives combined. And this is without even trying.

        The storage problems I have these days are almost entirely organisational.
  • by 42forty-two42 ( 532340 ) <`bdonlan' `at' `'> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:06PM (#9121843) Homepage Journal
    They only have one rack, which is 100 TB.
  • If you gave me a 100 mbit line, it would take me over 92 days to fill it up with porn. More if I slept.
  • by thedillybar ( 677116 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:06PM (#9121853)
    "After extensive market analysis, we have found 1 (one) organization that is interested in purchasing this device."

    Can we say, Goooooooooooooooogle?

  • I find it ironic that the Wayback machine poster is right next to the unit. Do I detect a hidden message? Hmmmm ;)

  • I swear, I can't keep up. I just got myself up to 1/2 terrabyte and could easily get to a full terrabyte, then this petabyte sh!t comes along.

    Ah well, all I'd do is fill it up with Simpsons episodes....

  • Ummmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by akira69 ( 621573 )
    20 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet eh.... I thought they had that in the 1970s
    • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "20 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet eh"

      In 2010 it better be 1 by 4 by 9.
  • Sooooo.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Boogaroo ( 604901 )
    Think someone like the government is going to keep track of who buys these things?
  • Ahhh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by 10101001011 ( 744876 )
    I just updated my old stone disk (it was erroding) with the latest gerbil in a wheel (I couldn't afford the guinea pig) with awesome seek times (he can seek food in less than 30 nanoseconds) and at least double-digit RPMs.
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:10PM (#9121907) Homepage Journal
    Though it says Linux is the standard OS, I'm hoping they plan on optimizing for Longhorn... so far this is the only system out that can meet Longhorns recommended disk capacity and RAM requirements. if they could only find a way to fit all that into a mini-ATX tower.
  • 20' x 8' x 8' = 1280 cubic feet!

    Jesus, that's more volume than the average room in a house! What year is it, 1984?
    • I think your confusing square footage with cupic footage, if the average house had ten foot high ceilings, it would only take up 16 feet of floor space
    • I think you're confused. A normal 2 bedroom house (that doesn't have wheels) will have a floor space around 1600-1700 square feet. With 8 foot ceilings, the interior (3D) space would be about 12,000 cubic feet at least.
  • two words (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Loconut1389 ( 455297 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:11PM (#9121926)
    Good God.

    or alternatively

    What for?

    At least as far as the next year or two is concerned. RIAA has all but outlawed music on the computer and even so, a petabyte of $1.25 songs would cost you more than bill gates makes in a year. If you have a petabyte of home movies, you must be making porno films.. If you have a petabyte of DVD's ripped, you have several life sentences coming, even if you own all the dvd's somehow (more bill gates salary multiples). And if you have text files, then holy grapes batman, youll never read all that in 10 lifetimes.

    I can see uses in the comercial realm, buying multiple units in order to backup. But if this is in anyway marketed toward the consumer, only the biggest 'mine has to be bigger than yours' geek would buy something like that right now. I'll probably have one of those on my desk/floor about 5 to 7 years from now when its affordable/realisitic for me.
    • Scientific Data (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Scott Ransom ( 6419 ) < minus punct> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:33PM (#9122682)
      I'm heavily involved in a 5-6 year project to use the Arecibo telescope to search for new pulsars. The project uses a new 7-beam receiver system, each of which takes data from up to 1024 nearby frequency channels. The data is 16-bit sampled over 15000 times per second from each frequency channel. We need the time and frequency resolution to find exotic millisecond pulsars.

      Over the couse of the survey we expect to take about 1 PB of data. We're still trying to figure out exactly how we will process and store it all.

      For more info, you can poke around here [].
  • by Berylium ( 588468 ) * on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:11PM (#9121927)
    From the site:

    PILOT STATUS 5/2004
    * The first 100TB Rack is up and running!
    * The second 100TB Rack will be up by the end of May
    * Thermal Targets have been met
    * Systems Booted from USB Dongle
    * Reiser FS running
    * PC-based Router running

    Maybe I'm missing something but this looks to me like they don't really have a Petabyte of storage working but plans to incorporate a Petabyte of storage with only 100 TB up and running now. Not that 100 TB is anything to brush off.
  • one petabyte ought to be good enough for anybody
  • by gremlins ( 588904 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:13PM (#9121945)
    I know the pull is to get these things as big as you can get but i would love to see hard drives that will work for ever. Now I know everything breaks but I mean in 400 years how is anyone going to know what we were like if all the data on us slowly goes away because the hard drives or the cds don't really last very long
    • I'd love to see an equivalent to all the benchmarking websites out there for telling me what hardware is reliable, and not just fast. I already know what the fastest drives, fastest video card, quietest fans, etc. are, but which ones last longest? Which drives *never* have failures that affect real data? Which cables are properly certified and insulated for high-volume transfer in a confined space rubbing up against other cables? Etc.

      If you know of such a site, tell me.
    • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:39PM (#9122191)
      ...but I mean in 400 years how is anyone going to know what we were like...

      What tiny fraction of our history is actually preserved in a useful manner will be misinterpreted and spun in ways you can't possibly imagine. 400 years from now you will be known as an ignorant fool guilty of untold crimes against lord knows whom. This will be true regardless of the quality of the archive used to figure you out.

      So don't worry about it.
    • Ozymandias (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Boglin ( 517490 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @11:46PM (#9123845) Journal
      Okay, I've heard this too many times and I'm just starting to get sick of it. It's not the computers that are killing your quest for digital immortality; it's just the way that history works.

      You're complaining that these hard drives won't run forever and you're right. Neither will CD's. However, I would also like to point out that the vast majority of ancient egyptian papyrus isn't around today. Also, don't start goign off on using clay or stone tablets, because they break (even the Rosetta stone is broken).

      Honestly, computers are still far superior to what we were using before. It's not like we've got Homer's original version of the Illiad sitting in a museum somewhere; we just have many duplicated copies that have been reproduced over the years. You're right that hard drives fail and CDs break, but we can keep updating onto new media. Besides, when a monk drops an iota when transcribing the Bible, Jesus goes from being God to godlike. When a computer adds an iota, the checkbit fails and the data is resent.

      Somebody is also going to point out that, as systems change, data can become unreadable. Heck, I had a professor who couldn't update his lab instructions because the software that read the lab printouts wouldn't run on new machines and the fileformat wasn't understood by any other software. So, want to stop our data from becoming unreadable? Well, let's just do what the Etruscans did! Of course, we don't have a clue what they did because nobody can read Etruscan. For a more familiar example, think of heiroglyphics before the Rosetta stone. It's pretty common for data to become lost and unreadable. Also, this bring us back to the solution. Along with the data, include the source code for the software that can read it. If you really want to be anal, you could even include the source to an emulator for the machien it was designed to run on.

      Still, you might point out, 400 years from now, we'll still lose 99% of that do to failures of whatever nature. Once again, you would be be right. However, do you honestly believe that we have 1% of all the data that was collected in 1604? Hell, most of the people couldn't even right, so we don't know ANYTHING about their lives. I'm sorry that we can't digitally preserve our wonderous society for all of eternity, but it's completely blind to believe that this makes us in ANY way different to any other culture. Read Percy Shelley's Ozymandias before complaining about how people in the future won't know what our lives were like.

  • Does it run Linux? :)
  • My quick calc suggests that a petabyte would require about 213,000 DVD-R disks at 4.7 GB/disk. At about 1.2 mm/disk, that's a stack about 255 m (837 ft )high.

    I don't even want to think about backing this up on a million some-odd CD-Rs. I suspect that the first CD-R would have rotted long before the last CD-R was written.
    • Welp, were geeks, let's calculate!
      1 000 000 000 000 000/700 000 000=1 428 571.43
      Nice, and lets say it takes 3 min to burn a cd.
      1 428 572 * 3 = 4 285 716 Min
      4 285 716 minutes = 71 428.6 hours
      71 428.6 hours = 2 976.19167 days
      2 976 days = 8 years

      So it's not likly that the cds will rot before they are burned, but it could happen :)

      Well, let's say tho we are limited to 8 hours a day rather then 24, that would make it 24 years to backup. Then bit rot would be lots more likly. :)
  • Aha! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:19PM (#9122002) Journal

    See? Those Longhorn specs are quite easy to achieve... Now let's sit back and wait for Intel or AMD to come up with a 1x1x1m slab of silicon that can melt graphite and run Longhorn at the same time!

  • by INMCM ( 209310 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:20PM (#9122008) Homepage
    1 MILLION GIGS! BAH! That isn't news unless they convert it to some entirely inappropiate metric. How many Library of Congresses is this? How many 128kbps MP3s can you store on it. And most importantly, how many floppy disks is this equivalent too?!
    • by isorox ( 205688 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:34PM (#9122154) Homepage Journal
      How many Library of Congresses is this?


      How many 128kbps MP3s can you store on it.

      250-300 million depending on song length

      And most importantly, how many floppy disks is this equivalent too?!

      700 Million - nearly 40,000 miles when laid end on end, or about 1500 miles when stacked on top of each other.
      • by Combuchan ( 123208 ) <sean AT emvis DOT net> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:43PM (#9123224) Homepage
        > >How many Library of Congresses is this?

        > 50

        According to this article, a Library of Congress is approximately 10 TB (who knew--this obtuse metric actually has a measurement!!!) 0B MD/is_39_9/ai_98189690

        So the device actually can contain 100 Libraries of Congress.
      • by aboyko ( 16319 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:55PM (#9123300)
        How many Library of Congresses is this?


        Oh, it isn't, either. Will you people knock it off already with the Library of Congress == 20TB comparison? It's some sort of inane computation made as if the collection were only books, and all the books were represented as ASCII text only. Well, guess what? It's not, and they're not.

        American Memory [] alone is a good bunch of terabytes, and that's just a wee digitized slice, just several million objects, of all the stuff in the Library. There's a lot. Of Stuff. A lot a lot a lot. Pictures. Maps. Movies. Big ol' stuff.

        Well, I feel better. Thanks!
      • "40,000 miles when laid end on end"

        What the hell does that mean? How many times around the earth is that? How many times to the moon and back?


    • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:59PM (#9122388)
      How many 128kbps MP3s can you store on it.

      Glad you asked. Assuming that we have a 10^15 byte disk (which is how those decimal-loving hard disk manufacturers would define it), and your MP3s are encoded at 128kbps (where 1 kb = 1024 b = 128 B, as the binary folks would have it), then you could listen to MP3s nonstop for:

      10^15B/(128kb/s * 128B/kb) = 61035156250 seconds ... which works out to just about 1934 years without hearing the same song twice.

  • Office manager: "Hey, Adam, do you know why our power usage might have gone up this last month?"

    I surreptitiously conceal the firewire cable going out the side door.

    Adam: "No, John, I haven't the foggiest."

    OM: "Ok, well I'll ask Kim when I talk to her about the strange shipping container outside. Thanks."

  • ... and pretty soon you're talking REAL storage.
  • by Sir Nimrod ( 163306 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:21PM (#9122023)

    In his novel 3001 Arthur C. Clarke asserted/speculated that one petabyte would be sufficient space to store a lifetime's memories. (He didn't say if this was compressed.)

    So, assuming you can handle the trivial exercise of transferring your memories (the implementation of which is left as an exercise for the reader), immortality is yours for the buying!

    1. Transfer memories to Petabox. Sign with your public key, so everyone knows it's you. Don't encrypt!
    2. Put Petabox in shipping container, along with retrieval instructions in English, Esperanto, and Chinese (to cover your bases).
    3. Bury shipping container in Yucca Mountain. (It's unlikely to ever see any nuclear waste, and it'd be a shame to waste the space.)
    4. Kill yourself.
    5. Wait for a society (a) advanced enough to restore you and (b) rich enough to bother.
    • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:55PM (#9122819)
      Transfer memories to Petabox. Sign with your public key, so everyone knows it's you. Don't encrypt!

      Don't encrypt! Ye gods man!
      I don't know about you, but I have a few things I wouldn't like people to know about, even long after I'm dead.
      I mean, let's face it, not all our memories are that flattering.

      And anyways, I'm pretty sure some of the memories from my college years are already "encrypted".
  • The cost... (Score:2, Informative)

    by brokenspark ( 777568 )
    "Rack materials cost is currently estimated to be $121K for 96TB" 13509 []
  • read the docs (Score:2, Interesting)

    If you look down in the message list, you see a reference to pdf + ppt docs. Here's another related project Planet Ten Modular Data Centers [].

    Yes, it's a petabyte once you fill the shipping container. Honestly, I thought of this idea last year (using stock shipping containers), and now I'm fascinated that they've made it happen.

    My only suggestion is that this is prototype: the eventual production systems (say, a couple of years time) should have custom shipping containers for:
    * any of the side panels

  • will find a way to fill it up... ;-)
  • Interesting link... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:36PM (#9122163) Homepage Journal
    It's right there under the pictures : []

    The site is rather empty right now, but it seems this is the company that will market this petabyte machine... er... box... er... whatever the name is.
  • Very nice, clean design overall. I'd like to know who the supplier was for the rack cases, or if they had them made custom. I've seen the half cases with the ports on the front before, but I have not been able to locate a US supplier.

    It appears that the nodes are half sized, allowing for 40 systems per side, or 80 systems total. The null modem console cables connecting node pairs together is clever... if any one machine fails, you can restart it as long as its neighbor is still alive.

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:50PM (#9122292) Journal
    ...just mount /dev/random as a petabyte drive. Admittedly it might be hard to find your data in there - but chances are it is in there somewhere [].
  • by Compulawyer ( 318018 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:21PM (#9123063)
    I'm just gonna get 1,000,000 free Gmail addresses and email all my data to myself 1 Gb at a time.
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @10:35PM (#9123548) Homepage
    Does that make you a petaphile?

    [massive karma burn detected]
  • by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:52AM (#9124087) Journal
    If you expect a hard drive to fail after three years (I'm guessing) but these occurances are randomly distributed (an assumption that will be true after running this thing for a year or two) you can then expect that the 4000 hard drives in this array would have about 3 failures per day. This thing would never be at full speed! it would be constantly restructuring its RAID. Also, it would cost about $300 just in hard drives (not to mention controllers, power supplies, et cetera).
    • Yes, but you aren't seriously suggesting it would be one RAID over all the disks are you?

      So assuming 3 failures a day, at most 3 RAID's would be running slower a day. Assuming 4 disks per RAID that's at most 12 disks at reduced performance, or 0.3% of the total data set that isn't available at full speed. If that is an issue, you duplicate any data that MUST be available on multiple nodes.

  • by dbretton ( 242493 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:42AM (#9124231) Homepage

    Is there enough disk space left to do anything useful after installing WinXP on it?

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.