back to article Sun packs 150 billion web pages into meat locker

If you believe the Gospel According to Robert J. Cringley, Google pilfered its top-secret modular data center from the Internet Archive. In a now-famous 2005 online expose, Cringley puts Google co-founder Larry Page at a pitch meeting where the Internet Archive's Bruce Baumgart considers the advantages of stuffing a full- …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And in another 13 years...'ll fit on a $10 USB thumb drive.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Significantly bigger than..

    my living room, seriously. not enough room to swing a cat5

  3. Pete
    Thumb Down

    Another well built sun product...

    2x 3/8" rack bolts....

    Yet there is only one, and its half done up...

    well done sun.

  4. Steve Evans

    Come on...

    Where's the rest of it... The aircon! I don't see any evaporators on that container, and there is no way those suits would be able to wearing anything more than speedos if that sweat box didn't have the wind chill factor of the Antarctic!

    Love the loose and missing mounting bolts! I wonder how many head crashes a magnitude 7 would cause, even with the fancy (unbolted) spring mounts?

  5. Joe H.

    Does this mean that an infinite number of monkeys...

    ...will one day have the space to store their archive of attempts at typing out an error free Hamlet script?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Prior Art Repository

    We need one to archive all prior art against future patent attacks

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Fire suppression?

    ...pictured is a common, "domestic grade" smoke detector. No fire suppression visible on the image.

    Paris might call this fire suppression.

  8. Andrew Elwell

    SLAC had theirs delivered in July 2007

    Some good pics and tech detail at

  9. Steve

    Odd this

    Search for and its blocked?

  10. John

    cue obligatory

    IT Crowd reference

  11. Neil

    Nice box

    any illegal immegrants hiding in there?

  12. Jonathan Small
    Dead Vulture

    Interesting 'Fire Suppression'

    Unless Blackbox have done something very clever - it looks just like a detector to me.

    Tomb Stone - what you will need if you wait for that to put you out!!

  13. Peter Page

    Ceasar didn't torch library. Apparantly.

    "a digital Alexandria capable of surviving a Caesarean fire"

    Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time radio broadcast discussed the library a couple of weeks ago. Historian chappy fairly sure Ceasar didn't burn it down (well, maybe just a little bit). Bit of a myth. But (UK readers) don't take my word for it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I bet that comes in one monster of a cardboard box.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "At a metaphysical level, what we're doing today is reconceptualizing what a computer is"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the archive created today will be useless because

    And the archive created today will be useless because no one will have the right versions of browsers or Flash orJavaScript, and all the eejits who have used "rich media" for their "content" will, rightly, be lost in the mists of time.

    In the same way, no one has 5.25" floppies or versions of Framemaker any more.

    James Lovelock was/is right, we need more LIBRARIES based on documents, paper, books, we don't need more "interweb archives". Interweb archives don't work real well in the post-petrol era.

    Anyway, the guys at the wayback machine are happy to take down anything that might be in the slightest way controversial (eg DEC/CPQ/Intel stuff in the Alpha vs Itanium era), which rather devalues their archive imo.

  17. N

    missing / loose bolt

    I agree its poor to miss something so obvious & dosnt bode well for the overall standard of installation,

    Who ever fitted them & accepted the installation on behalf of Sun is responsible & probably a third party contractor, but Id have em back to sort it pronto & check the rest of the installation to see what else required attention.

  18. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Having read the PDF

    It looks a lot like prior art to me.

    I might also suggest James Follett's "Trojan" (1991) depicts a containerised broadcasting studio for a rogue satellite broadcasting mogul. He later moves his whole data centre onto an ocean going cargo ship.

    I've not read the Google patent but I wonders what is not in the paper that is in the patent. Did they include their use of MPU's pre-screened by Intel with higher than usual operating temperatures?

    On a side note $3000 for 320 sq ft is c $9.35 a sq. ft. That sounds quite cheap for a house. Not wanting to live in one, just saying.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    probably being a bit of a **** here, but by my reckoning, the reverse of the rack has some pretty scruffy cable routing. I'm sure it could be done more tidily. But it's too much to ask when they have a screw loose.

  20. Ray


    Water cooling it says, do up the bolts and finish the finish and this is a neat and nifty solution.

    Why aren't Google bidding for Sun with this kind of interesting powerful building block and Eric Schmidt could be the best placed person having been at Sun to know how to run Sun?

    This is such a great example of really what Sun can do and they alway seem to push out positive tech PR and this seems the best so far in response to any negative press comment about their financial and business problems.

    Long Live Sun. . .

  21. Sam York

    @ Steve Evans

    The article clearly states that water cooling is used...

  22. Ian Rogers

    Invalid patent?

    Is this now an accepted history then? Will Page be giving up the patent on grounds of prior art? (Will he heck!)

  23. Nomen Publicus

    Google/Sun takeover make more sense

    No idea why IBM would want Sun. A Google/Sun takeover makes more sense considering the number of Sun people now working at Google.

  24. Josh

    A heat and particulate detector...

    Is fire detection, not supression. Show us the heptafluoropropane bottles!

    Mine's the asbestos lined button-down...

  25. blackworx
    Paris Hilton


    Richard Dawkins was dead on when he said that the gene was being replaced by the meme as a basic unit of evolution. We have here one big tank full ready to outlive all of us, and not a piece of meat in sight.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    If Larry Page was in the audience

    Then not only is Google's patent invalid if anyone can testify that Page or anyone else from Google especially any listed "inventors" was there. A company I used to work with, along with one of its competitors, was sued by a third competitor over what we all referred to as "the kitchen sink patent" the third competitor had. The "inventors" on "the kitchen sink patent" had done the same thing as this article accuses Page of doing - sitting through presentations by folks and then rushing to file a patent on those other folks inventions. In court, the lead "inventor" testified that he never saw the presentations that predated his patent filing. Unfortunately for him, at least one of the presentations was at a DARPA meeting and DARPA officials not only testified he was there, they had his signature on the sign-in sheet. We won the patent case (after roughly half a decade of litigation). The jury, when they delivered their verdict, also made the advisory determination that the patent is unenforceable due to "inequitable conduct".

  27. Russ Williams
    Paris Hilton

    Shouldn't that be Danny Hill*i*s?

    I remember him - on Horizon - years back...

  28. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    All it needs ... ?

    "All it needs from the outside world is a power source (25kW per rack) and a cooling-fluid hook-up (ordinary tap water)".

    An ethernet connection wouldn't go amiss either, otherwise it's simply a box sucking in 200kW ( eight racks ) for no real purpose.

    Mine's the one with the 1000 amp cable in the pocket.

  29. Ru
    Thumb Down

    Re: Where's the rest of it... The aircon!

    It is watercooled; read the article. I imagine the waste host water is simply poured down the drain.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Another patent for...

    ... the bleedin' obvious.

    Aircons and other large modular systems have been pre-built into containers for decades. What's so special about a few servers and associated support?


  31. Chronos

    Re: Another well built sun product...

    By the looks of the thing, it's cross-threaded, too. Multi-million dollar datacentre fucked by a $0.20 bolt. Gotta love that mentality...

  32. Keith Williams
    Thumb Down

    get real

    In the 1980's the company I was working for in Toronto was using a Disaster recovery site which had "computer rooms to go" - 20 foot shipping containers with Power and Air Conditoning which could be delivered to a site, loaded with what every your prefered hardware was and you would have a computer room in the box.

  33. Paul Sammy

    This is the internet in a box.

    The lines about holding the internet brought this to mind:

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Come on...

    It has chilled water piped into it. See the specs on Sun's website. I'm too lazy to point the links to you...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Re: Fire Suppression

    The Spec shows several Fire Suppression Options:

    HFC-125 Fire Extinguishing Agent, RoHS:Y

    HFC-227ea Fire Extinguishing Agent, RoHS:Y

    FK-5-1-12 Fire Extinguishing Agent, RoHS:Y

    BTW, that's not a "common, "domestic grade" smoke detector." It is a standard

    Data Center Grade Particulate and Smoke Detector.

    Love these idiotic comments from the peanut gallery.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonderful example of Sun Technology

    Well Done !

    This so clearly shows why Sun is such a Grand Prize !

  37. Cullen Newsom

    Nice try Sun

    HP uses those to ship replacement motherboards (one per).

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ru re "aircon"

    >"I imagine the waste host water is simply poured down the drain."

    What waste host water? Wouldn't the water be continously recirculated through a heat exchanger and the only losses in the system down to evaporation?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For more info on what it was like "working" at Thinking Machines...

    >"But this morning, Papadopoulus acknowledged that project sprung from Kahle, whom he had worked with at the Cambridge supercomputer maker Thinking Machines."

    ... see

  40. Maurice Cloutier
    Thumb Up

    Sun MD Answers

    I'm the product group manager for the Sun MD, so let me clarify a few things.

    * The rack bolts were left unsecured by the service engineer to facilitate rack removal during the tours. If you doubt the seismic capabilities of the Sun Modular Datacenter (Sun MD), check out our earthquake test video:

    * There is an integrated, VESDA smoke detection and fire suppression system offering your choice of FE-25, FM-200, or FK-5-1-12.

    * The Sun MD runs on a closed loop water system. There is no waste water. An external chiller sends cold water in which is then sent back to the chiller.

    * There are panels on each side of the Sun MD for network hook-up.

    * It's special because you can deliver a 200-kW datacenter virtually anywhere in the world in a matter of weeks vs. the months and years it takes to build out a conventional datacenter.

    * A meat locker is generally 36 - 38 degrees Fahrenheit. We try to maintain an internal temperature for the Sun MD between 68 and 72 degrees, depending on humidity, etc.

    * For more information, check out the product specifications and videos:


  41. Anonymous Coward

    and time to put it to bed....

    thanks Maurice for clearing up the many questions and silly comments made by the great unwashed...

    now they can all just STFU !!!!

    mines the one with the keys to the container in the pocket...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK is Wonderful . . . lets file under miscellaneous

    Thanks Maurice for clarification. Great project! Well Done!

    Its like a giant living time capsule for posterity!

    Wonderful Stuff !

    . . .

    I'm amazed on the internet how no one appears to have solved the internet cache persistence problem that causes so many problems with some sort of smart interlock.

    And I hope with the tank full it is fully linked forward and backward and is preserved safely and I suppose at sometime it must be switched off to save energy and costs.

    The next bit perhaps is near zero energy static storage perhaps out to 8500 and T10000 archive tape . . .

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Far flung

    >>Sun has shipped its shipping containers "in the low double digits" to operations as far flung as the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands and the Belgian wind turbine outfit Hansen Transmissions.

    So about 150kms apart then?

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