Friday, June 7, 2013

The NSA Data Center in Perspective

According to a Fox News report, the new NSA data center in Utah will be able to store 5 Zettabytes of information. To put that in perspective:

Most hard drives today are measured in Gigabytes, but the Terabyte (approximately 1000 Gigabytes) is becoming more common. Currently, the largest drives are in the range of 2-3 Terabytes.

If you take a 1 Terabyte hard drive:
  • 1 Petabyte would consist of approximately 1000 of these drives.
  • 1 Exabyte would consist of approximately 1000 Petabytes, or 1 million drives.
  • 1 Zettabyte would consist of approximately 1000 Exabytes, or 1 billion drives.

In 2011, Seagate said that the average size of a hard drive that it shipped was 590 GB. If we assume that the average size of a hard drive is probably somewhere in the 700 GB range today, this facility would contain enough storage for 7,142,857,143 average drives. In other words, there will be enough space to hold a hard drive for every person in the world today, with a few left over. (The most recent world population estimate was 7.09 billion.)

Now, what exactly do they plan to store here? Oh, wait...maybe this, this, this, this, and a whole lot more.

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