Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NSA to build Storage Facility with a YOTTABYTE of Data

In Utah, the National Security Agency is building a $2 billion storage facility that will house and analyze all forms of electronic communication...a potential yottabyte of everyone's (formerly) personal data. So how big is a yottabyte?  Well, let's start at something familiar-- a gigabyte:
There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte, a thousand terabytes in a petabyte, a thousand petabytes in an exabyte, a thousand exabytes in a zettabyte, and a thousand zettabytes in a yottabyte. In other words, a yottabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000GB.
For all intents and purposes, a yottabyte is essentially infinity.  This new storage facility will be 1 million square feet in size and will burn through more electricity than all of Salt Lake City

But how do you store such an absurd amount of data?

There are a couple theories, but here's one: atomic holographic optical nanotechnology.

Simply put, it uses ultraviolet lasers to read data stored in three dimensions, instead of the two we use on hard discs today.  In more complex terms, it uses ultraviolet light to write data by modifying the position of a molecule to represent either a 1 or 0 binary digit (binary is the numeral system used in almost all digital electronics) within one of Colossal's FEdisks (the 3-D disks of the future).  This kind of technology is still being developed and is expected to begin implementation as soon as 2012.

[Link: Gizmodo]

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