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Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
Electricity will come from the center’s own substation built by Rocky Mountain Power to satisfy the 65-megawatt power demand. Such a mammoth amount of energy comes with a mammoth price tag - about $40 million a year, according to one estimate.
Given the facility’s scale and the fact that a terabyte of data can now be stored on a flash drive the size of a man’s pinky, the potential amount of information that could be housed in Bluffdale is truly staggering. But so is the exponential growth in the amount of intelligence data being produced every day by the eavesdropping sensors of the NSA and other intelligence agencies.
As a result of this “expanding array of theater airborne and other sensor networks,” as a 2007 Department of Defense report puts it, the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data. (A yottabyte is a septillion bytes - so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.)
It needs that capacity because, according to a recent report by Cisco, global Internet traffic will quadruple from 2010 to 2015, reaching 966 exabytes per year. (A million exabytes equal a yottabyte.)
In terms of scale, Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, once estimated that the total of all human knowledge created from the dawn of man to 2003 totaled 5 exabytes.
And the data flow shows no sign of slowing.
In 2011 more than 2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people were connected to the Internet. By 2015, market research firm IDC estimates, there will be 2.7 billion users. Thus, the NSA’s need for a 1-million-square-foot data storehouse. Should the agency ever fill the Utah center with a yottabyte of information, it would be equal to about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.
The data stored in Bluffdale will naturally go far beyond the world’s billions of public web pages. The NSA is more interested in the so-called invisible web, also known as the deep web or deepnet - data beyond the reach of the public.
Jaguar is a petascale supercomputer built by Cray at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The massively parallel Jaguar has a peak performance of just over 1,750 teraflops (1.75 petaflops). It has 224,256 x86-based AMD Opteron processor cores, and operates with a version of Linux called the Cray Linux Environment. Jaguar is a Cray XT5 system, a development from the Cray XT4 supercomputer.
In November 2009 and June 2010, TOP500, the semiannual list of the world's top 500 supercomputers, named Jaguar as the world's fastest computer. In late October 2010, the BBC reported that the Chinese supercomputer Tianhe-1A had taken over the top spot, achieving over 2.5 quadrillion calculations per second, thereby bumping Jaguar to second place. The November 2010 TOP500 list confirmed the new rankings.
In 2012 the Jaguar was transformed into Titan by replacing CPUs with GPUs.
The Cray XT5 is an updated version of the Cray XT4 supercomputer, launched on November 6, 2007. It includes a faster version of the XT4's SeaStar2 interconnect router called SeaStar2+, and can be configured either with XT4 compute blades, which have four dual-core AMD Opteron processor sockets, or XT5 blades, with eight sockets supporting dual or quad-core Opterons. The XT5 uses a 3-dimensional torus network topology.
The XT5 family run the Cray Linux Environment, formerly known as UNICOS/lc. This incorporates SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Cray's Compute Node Linux.
The XT5h (hybrid) variant also includes support for Cray X2 vector processor blades, and Cray XR1 blades which combine Opterons with FPGA-based Reconfigurable Processor Units (RPUs) provided by DRC Computer Corporation.
The XT5m variant is a mid-ranged supercomputer with most of the features of the XT5, but having a 2-dimensional torus network topology and scalable to 6 cabinets.
The Cray XK6 is an enhanced version of the Cray XE6 supercomputer, announced in May 2011. The XK6 uses the same "blade" architecture of the XE6, with each XK6 blade comprising four compute "nodes". Each node consists of a 16-core AMD Opteron 6200 processor with 16 or 32 GB of DDR3 RAM and an Nvidia Tesla X2090 GPGPU with 6 GB of GDDR5 RAM, the two connected via PCI Express 2.0. Two Gemini router ASICs are shared between the nodes on a blade, providing a 3-dimensional torus network topology between nodes.
An XK6 cabinet accommodates 24 blades (96 nodes). Each of the Tesla processors is rated at 665 double-precision gigaflops giving 63.8 teraflops per cabinet. The XK6 is capable of scaling to 500,000 Opteron cores, giving up to 50 petaflops total hybrid peak performance.
The XK6 runs the Cray Linux Environment. This incorporates SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Cray's Compute Node Linux.
The first order for an XK6 system was an upgrade of an existing XE6m at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS).
Japan’s “K Computer” maintained its position atop the newest edition of the TOP500 List of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, thanks to a full build-out that makes it four times as powerful as its nearest competitor. Installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, the K Computer it achieved an impressive 10.51 Petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores.
Originally posted by TritonTaranis
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