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SCI/TECH: US govt buys world's biggest RAM disk, for DHS?

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posted on Mar, 10 2004 @ 10:12 AM
link reports that the US government bought a 2.5TB (2500 GB) RAM drive, making this the largest RAM drive in the world. It will be used to speed up cross-checking across several vast databases in Washington DC. It is unclear however which agencies are going to use it, both the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security are based in DC.... story

The US government has just bought the world's biggest ever solid state disk from Texas Memory Systems.

The 2.5TB system is "the largest SSD installation in the world by far, without question", the executive VP for TMS, Woody Hutsell, told Techworld. The previous biggest one was under 500GB, he told us. At 2.5TB, it is roughly 10,000 times the size of the RAM in your PC.

The list price of the system, which is made up from 40 RamSan 320 units, reviewed here, is $4.7million, although the US government received a discount. It was installed by TMS' OEM Dynamic Solutions International.

So where is it and what's it to be used for? Well, the installation site is in Washington DC and the application involves hosting metadata for large file systems, several databases including Oracle and the acceleration of other storage-based applications by holding, for example, journal files in the SSD.

What that means in simple English is that the US government has just bought the world's biggest RAM drive in order to speed up cross-checking across several vast databases. The way databases work, a query will tend to scan an entire table if it thinks that anything more than a small percentage of the table's contents are relevant.

However, when you are talking about vast databases, that process requires a huge amount of memory to store all the details. Unless you can store all that information temporarily (say in RAM), the query has to read from disks and that is a far, far slower process. The problem is compounded hugely when you are running a query across multiple databases. So, if you want to get at the information as fast as possible you need a monster RAM memory to temporarily store the details while it is sifting through.

We do know that several of the servers using the SSD storage are running Solaris and that altogether the site has about 100TB of storage, but the specific government department and applications involved have not been revealed.

However, not that many departments could possibly want to run such vast queries regularly. It would also be extremely difficult to justify a $4.7 million investment unless that work was seen as vital and speed was a main consideration in that work. It is also peculiar that such a large purchase could be approved at a time of tightening belts.

Now, we're not saying that the Department of Homeland Security is behind the purchase. Or that it is using the technology to search the various databases of people that it, the government, the NSA and the Pentagon possess. But all of them are based in Washington DC and there are of course some issues about Islamic terrorists already living in the States.

A RamSan 320 unit holds up to 64GB of RAM in a 3U rack unit. The US government order is housed in three full height rack units. There are over 320 2Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports and the aggregate I/O rate is 36Gbit/s. That is some serious hardware.

Hutsell tells us that "the customer has been happy so far". He expects there may be additional purchasing later this year.

posted on Mar, 10 2004 @ 10:25 AM
This is an insane amount of RAM. If they had a couple more of these, they could have the entire Library of Congress in memory. My gigabyte of memory looks pathetic now.

posted on Mar, 10 2004 @ 10:35 AM
I would really like to know what they are searching through where they would need that type of hardware. With gear like that the idea of searching through logs of all internet traffic doesnt seem as far fetched anymore. 3 full racks _just_ for RAM is pretty insane, I wonder what kind of hardware it connects to, perhaps that fabled super coputer cluster in the basement of the NSA?

posted on Mar, 10 2004 @ 12:41 PM
WoW! thats a lot of RAM! I just hope it won't be used for some kind of evil privacy invading purpose because then it would be a waste of such thing by my definition
. If they are using it as a part of a plan to spy on us I hope they screw up with the wiring and it catches on fire.

I'd sure like to have that in my machine! Oh well I'm unpgrading from 256 to 512 mb soon

posted on Mar, 10 2004 @ 09:24 PM
What if you bought that for your home pc..things would be at the speed of light on it lol.

posted on Mar, 10 2004 @ 11:24 PM

Originally posted by SwampFox
What if you bought that for your home pc..things would be at the speed of light on it lol.

Actually no, it would be useless. A normal home pc, even a top of the line overclocked P4 w/ HT couldnt handle that. Its a high end piece of hardware designed to integreate into large servers setups and disk arrays. If you could even attach it to a normal home computer the bottleneck between the ram and the processor would probably make the system highly unstable, probably resulting in a crash.

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