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Codebreaker

What’s he building over there? NSA Edition

Marc Sanchez Mar 16, 2012

There’s a whole bunch of data out there, some of it dangerous, and it needs a home. The National Security Agency is busy raising a barn in Bluffdale, Utah to house it all. Actually it’s a little bigger than a barn. At around one million square feet, the NSA plans to open the doors to its new data center in 2013. Once built, the data center will be home to security experts and house rooms full of servers, which will, as Wired reports, “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.”
It’s hard to explain all the information this place is going to be capturing, processing, and logging to your permanent record. Again from Wired:

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.)

Yottabytes! The articles goes on to explain that if you were to print out a yottabyte’s worth of data, you would find yourself with 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pages.

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