2013-07-04 Bluffdale: The NSA Utah supercomputer data centre

The Salt Lake Tribune published an in-depth look at the NSA Bluffdale data centre, one of six such centres in the US which will go operational soon.

"In many ways, the new Utah Data Center is the quintessential black box", wrote the SLT. "The Utah Data Center spans 1 million square feet, with a 100,000-square-foot, raised-floor area divided into four separate data halls, each holding what the NSA calls "mission-critical" computing servers and data-storage capacity."

"The entire facility is heavily fortified by a robust security perimeter, its own police force, intrusion-detection systems, backup generators with three days of fuel storage and a structure designed to withstand major physical attack."

"It will need an average of 65 megawatts of electricity to run what several NSA equipment suppliers say will be among the most sophisticated supercomputers and largest reserves of data storage on the planet."

"I always build everything expandable", said Harvey Davis, NSA director of installations and logistics.

The NSA will use Cray XC30 series supercomputers. Some of these computers can also be deployed at Ft Meade.

"While the extreme scaling Cray XC30 supercomputer is a transverse air-flow liquid-cooled architecture, the Cray XC30-AC air-cooled family provides slightly smaller and less dense supercomputing cabinets with no requirement for liquid coolants or extra blower cabinets."

Development of the XC30 series was financed in part by the US Department of Defense. Speeds are up to 100 petaflops, one thousand trillion calculations per second, or three times faster than the world's currently fastest computers. This is enough computer power to track the movements of every human on Earth in real time and also enough to break advanced encryption algorithms, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney.

"The magnitude of the agency's data storage reserves at Bluffdale all but defy comprehension", wrote the Salt Lake Tribune.

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