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Utah Data Center (wikipedia.org)
161 points by merinid on June 7, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 33 comments

Bumblehive (the Utah datacenter) is just one of many massive infrastructure investment programs NSA is working on. Fort Meade and San Antonio are already online at a similar scale to Utah, with another facility in Maryland breaking ground.

The NSA is Baltimore Gas & Electric's biggest customer, even before the expansion.

Really? We would see that data in FERC http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eqr.asp#.UbFZk_ZATns

Feel free to start digging, but from a quick glance your link seems to apply to wholesale rates between power companies. I really doubt commercial customer data is reported.

You could do something data science-ish and look at how much power Baltimore Electric is buying in comparison to other companies, whilst controlling with Census data and perhaps other industrial activity data, see if there is really a gap in the power they are buying for the type of demand they should getting in a comparable scenario.

I know from personal conversations, but I found a public article citing the same: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2006-08-06/news/0608060158_...

The bit that really amuses me is that the Americans are going ballistic because their own government is spying on them but as a foreign citizen they think it's perfectly OK for their own government to spy on me.


I don't think our 4th amendment applies to foreigners, does it? I do agree with your sentiment though.

Indeed but wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if your constitution did apply (and was followed of course) worldwide.

For a sense of scale, when this facility was designed, it was planned to hold more storage than existed on the entire planet.

I figured -- and I also figured why that was. They probably plan on storing a copy of most of it there... :/

I bet they're not even going to seed back. Bastards.

Hahaha, indeed! +1

On a related note. The Utah Libertas Institute says they'll be interviewing William Binney a whistleblower who worked for the NSA.

"Tomorrow we'll also be interviewing William Binney, the whistleblower who worked at the NSA for over 30 years and quit after they started targeting innocent Americans. He has some fascinating insight on exactly what the agency does, and with the data center being built in Utah, has a message to deliver to us.

What questions would you like us to ask him?"


I've listed to William Binney a few months back on the Joe Rogan Experience talking about this. Very interesting.

Who are the people designing NSA software? It seems like this technology should make Google's "big data" techniques seem like amateur hour. Are these guys the cream of the crop or what?

$2B build + $2B in hardware - that we know about. Probably much more going into this project. These data centers are probably true works of art inside and out. From a technical standpoint, the NSA has some of the most advanced technologies available today. Most aren't even available to the commercial market; Intel has been making custom silicon for the NSA for a decade. They are on the cutting edge.

Oh god, that sounds heavenly. I wish they would release some documentation or video of what's inside their data centers. Too bad that would be a national security issue :\

$2B build + $2B in hardware

Meanwhile entire families are on the streets and there is rampant unemployment. I thought the government was supposed to be for the people, not against them.

And it's not like these investments serve any public good. They don't get commercialized or taught to the public/industry like NASA, DARPA, etc... and what terrorist attacks have they stopped? Kids still shoot up schools. People drive car bombs into Times Square (street vendors stop them). They blow up marathons. They get on planes with bombs in their shoes (passengers stop them, not the NSA).

"designed to be a primary storage resource capable of storing data on the scale of yottabytes"

That's more than 1000x the total annual internet traffic. With a budget of a few billion USD, a yottabyte is several orders of magnitude beyond current market rates.

Yes, but you can still get a lot of storage for that kind of money.

2 billion USD in hard drives = 10 million 4 TB drives = 40 Exabytes = 6 GB per person in the world

Might as well just manufacture your own hard drives if you want to play this game. Optimized for Accumulo, with built in hardware encryption.

It would be highly ironic if they encrypt data there.

What makes you guys think they're paying the same price we are for hard drives??

These datacenters are so sophisticated, they are generations beyond the commercial facilities of today. You can imagine the new facility being built will be the cutting-edge, processors and systems years away from commercial use.

Revenue figures for 2012; draw your own conclusions on the feasibility of competing with commodity hardware, even for $2B deployments:

Intel: $54B

Seagate: $15B

WD: $12B

They don't need to have all of the hardware for v1.

Even if a machine can store 50 TB (say 5TB in subsequent years10 disks), to store 1 yottabyte (10^12 TB), you would need 210^10 machines, or 10 billion machines. And I can't even start to think of the datacenter network topology..

What do you mean by "machine"? Your point is well taken, however. You can fit 80 3.5" drives in a commodity 4U enclosure, say 3.2 PB raw per rack with 4TB hard drives and only two head nodes. Then we only need a mere 312,000,000 racks to get to a yottabyte. At 30 square feet per rack, that's 10 billion square feet, or 360 square miles. So. I think the 'yotta' is either anticipating a massive improvement in storage density, or the Wikipedia editor was a bit off...

> At 30 square feet per rack, that's 10 billion square feet, or 360 square miles.

...with no redundancy whatsoever, and that's raw capacity, not usable. Crazy talk.

The goal may not to make it all accessible simultaneously. They may archive to disk then remove the disks when they are full and put in storage.

At 80 drives in 4U, removing the drives from racks is only going to improve density by a small percentage. Perhaps by removing any walking space between the racks you could bring it down to 180 square miles from 360. HDD are more volumetrically dense than tape.

Any way you look at it, a yottabyte is going to occupy an enormous amount of physical space.

This is probably more informative on the matter: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

Perhaps something similar to this, but in far far larger scale.


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