free html hit counter Super Secret Weapon? - John Battelle's Search Blog

Super Secret Weapon?

By - June 15, 2006

Or simple datacenter? Let’s not go too over the top, folks.

From the TImes:

On the banks of the windswept Columbia River, Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky.

The complex, sprawling like an information-age factory, heralds a substantial expansion of a worldwide computing network handling billions of search queries a day and a growing repertory of other Internet services.

It’s a data center. It’s there because it was a cheap place to put it. It ain’t a secret weapon. But John Markoff, one of the authors of the piece, has always broken new numbers on the amount of computing power in Google’s arsenal, this piece now puts it at nearly half a million CPUs.

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6 thoughts on “Super Secret Weapon?

  1. Philip Cunningham says:

    “It’s a data center. It’s there because it was a cheap place to put it.”

    Presumably the same economics drove the NSA Echelon Faclilty at Yakima, Washington, which is about 100 miles away.

    Oh, and remind me again, isn’t there a Yahoo facility somewhere near there? And Microsoft’s big new data centre?

    Yours from the bunker with the tin hat on,

  2. The way that Google does it, using Linux parallel clusters, their own operating system and their own cheap storage, there’s probably no limit to the number of servers or clusters they can create to meet demand.

  3. Brandon Byers says:

    I have to wonder if this is part of Google’s plan to avoid paying the ISP’s extortion fees once the tiered internet ramps up. You know, put a containerized datacenter * at every peering point in the US, and then one of these babies in say 8 states in the US. In network terms, you’ll then be so close to all netizens that the ISP’s won’t be able to slow you down, much.

    In Robert X Cringely’s speech at the WebmasterWorld PubCon last November, he said that with Google buying a power plant, dark fiber, and putting together a massive network of insane-powerful datacenters … well, in the future, he thinks Google will become *the* internet. There’ll be a power-play of course – a big, probably defiant, act showing the world who’s really running things – and then, there’ll be the Google internet, running on top of the original internet. In his mind, it’ll be faster, simpler, and safer, and (unlike M$), it’ll just work.

    Most of this is heavy on rumor & speculation, and light on facts … and I’m certain Googlers watching us talk about it are laughing (and if they’re *not* doing what we think they are, perhaps they’re also taking note of where they might go from here).

    * See Robert X Cringely’s story from last November:

  4. Brandon Byers says:

    All the same … Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, NSA having giant datacenters in a small region?

    Can you say “giant freaking target”? Think nuke … or simply EMP (a.k.a. e-bomb) … and with that in mind, I wonder how well these datacenters are hardened against *these* kinds of threats.

  5. Gen Kiyooka says:

    Judging from the aerial photo, these guys have never heard of flooding. Wait for it: Gmail is unavailable because our server farm is under 4′ water.

  6. Jason says:

    Datacenters are like boats, holes you throw money into – maybe Google’s will float?