[Beowulf] Re: Interesting

John Hearns hearnsj at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 3 01:38:10 PDT 2010

On 29 October 2010 18:36, Robert G. Brown <rgb at phy.duke.edu> wrote:
>  Will there BE a laser drive that is backwards compatible to
> CD, or will it go the way of reel to reel tapes, 8 track tapes, cassette
> tapes, QIC tapes, floppy drives of all flavors (including high capacity
> drives like the ones I have carefully saved at home in case I ever need
> one), magnetic core memories, large mountable disk packs, exabyte tape
> drives, DA tapes, and so on?  I rather think it will be gone.  It isn't
> even clear if hard disk drives will still be available (not that any
> computer around would be able to interface with the 5 or 10 MB drives of
> my youth anyway).

Have a look at the other thread I started, regarding new approaches to
data storage.

> Now, however, this general purpose desktop is all but dead, supplanted...
>   Actual data
> storage may well migrate into servers that are completely different
> beasts, far away, accessible only over a wireless network, and
> controlled by others.
> An enormous step backwards, in other words.  A risk to our political
> freedom.  And yet so seductive, so economical, so convenient, that we
> may willingly dance down a primrose path to an information catastrophe
> that is more or less impossible still with the vast decentralization of
> stored knowledge.

I'm not so sure it IS a step backwards.
What I think we should be doing is working towards a media-agnostic
form of storing data.
A recognition that scientific data (and other forms, like movies and
music etc.) will carry with them metadata and that the data will
migrate through many types of physical media in its lifetime, and will
from the outset have multiple copies made.
I guess the HPC Grid computing types are doing this already, what I'm
rather thinking about is a universal standard for this, and a way of
carrying the metadata with the actual data in a way it cannot be lost.

Its also funny that I use the term "lifetime"  - I guess in the past
we all have assumed digital data will have an infinite lifetime, as as
discussed above it has come to pass that the decay of media, or
reading apparatus being unavailable has made data have a finite

The real point I am making here is that with cloud type data storage
over IP connections even in HPC we will be seeing data accessed not on
SCSI volumes (be that direct SCSI, fibrechannel, iSCSI, RAID etc) but
from an HTTP accessed object store. You might then say that "Hey -
performance matters and that's why we still have SCSI" - I would
counter that you will see home users accessing data via ADSL, business
users via gigabit, and those HPC class systems will have 10 / 40 / 100
gigabit interfaces.

More information about the Beowulf mailing list