Feeds

US spooks to build 60 megawatt data center

What Federal budget crisis?

High performance access to file storage

Two years ago, the NSA got a $1.53bn allocation to build an even larger 65 megawatt data center on a 240-acre site at the National Guard facility in Camp Williams, Utah. Construction began on this data center in September 2009 and is expected to be completed in May 2014. This facility, which is located south of Salt Lake City, has about 100,000 feet of data center floor space and comprises over 1 million feet of total space.

The US Army Corps of Engineers oversees these construction jobs, but subcontracts the work out to commercial companies. The biggest beneficiaries of these NSA data center construction jobs, aside from the workers who get paid to do the work, are the US senators that get to brag about bringing jobs back to their states.

While the data centers in Fort Meade and Camp Williams are interesting, what inquiring minds want to know is what iron the NSA is using and what it is using it for. In theory, these two facilities are used to snoop on foreign communications as they come into the United States, not to spy on citizens located inside the country.

The NSA has been an enthusiastic supporter of supercomputer Cray over the decades, and is one of the main funders of Cray's "ThreadStorm" XMT multithreaded supercomputers. These machines pair the ThreadStorm processors, designed by Tera Computer founder Burton Smith, who now is a technical fellow at Microsoft Research, and James Rottsolk, who used to run Cray after Tera bought the name-brand super maker in 2000.

The MTA, and then follow-on XMT designs, are packed with lots of threads, deep instruction pipelines, and fast switching between threads to keep the machine humming. The current "ThreadStorm" processor used in the XMT machines has 128 threads and the XMT system can scale up to a mind-bobbling 8,192 threads with 128TB of shared memory across all those threads. This is a perfect machine for hyperscale pattern matching.

Cray's Custom Engineering division is expected to roll out an XMT-2 processor later this year, and it will presumably plug into the current XE6 blade servers that also support Opteron 6100 chips. Cray is a licensee of the Opteron socket design as well as HyperTransport interconnects, and the XMT chips plugged into Rev F Opteron sockets.

If this is indeed one of the key systems going into the two NSA data centers, the US spook agency will not be the first organization to get an MTA-2 system. The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Manno, Switzerland, inked a deal to get the first MTA-2 machine back in February. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.