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System use 50 times data loc { May 19 2003 }

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Proposed System Would Use Lots of Data
Monday May 19, 2003 9:09 PM

Proposed system would use lots of data<< Proposed surveillance system would use 50 times more data than Library of Congress


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - To track and thwart terrorists, the Pentagon wants to give U.S. agents fingertip access to records from around the world that could fill the Library of Congress more than 50 times. The library's collection includes more than 18 million books.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says in its documents that it is trying to design software that could access and analyze an unprecedented amount of data, ``measured in petabytes.''

In computer jargon, a byte is what it takes electronically to represent one letter of the alphabet. A petabyte is a quadrillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000, bytes.

Most personal computers now come with storage space for two to 20 gigabytes of information. A petabyte is 1 million times larger than a gigabyte.

Such an accumulation of data would dwarf most existing databases.

One of the largest databases on the Internet is 100 terabytes and contains an archive of five years' worth of Web pages. But that's just a tenth of one petabyte.

Several years ago Microsoft's Bill Gates put a vast collection of satellite photos of the earth's surface on a huge Web site he called the TerraServer. That site stores 3.3 terabytes.

The data the Pentagon envisions would include all kinds of visual and text files in various formats. But if it were all simple text, one petabyte would contain enough room for almost 40 pages of information on each of the more than 6.2 billion human beings on Earth.

Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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