back to article US spooks to build 60 megawatt data center

The Obama administration might have been wrestling mightily with a recalcitrant Republican Congress high on strong tea over the US government's fiscal 2012 budget, which had tens of billions of dollars in spending slashed, but the one thing that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on is that the National Security Agency …


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  1. alain williams Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Which is why the released the news today ...

    that they are examining Bin Laden's computer -- ''Guys, he has been encrypting his data, we are gonna need some powerful computers to decrypt it -- just to keep you safe you understand, we would not think of using this do decrypt friendly communications''.

  2. MinionZero

    60 Megawatts?!

    @"60 megawatts" ... and ... $860.6m "cost for the facility alone, not the cost of the servers, storage, and networking gear that will inhabit the data center."

    What the hell are they building?!

    Lets put this into context. Only 25 of the top 500 super computers in the world need more than 1MW of power. e.g.

    The number 2 most powerful supercomputer (DOE/SC/Oak Ridge National Laboratory) only needs 7 megawatts of power, thats the most power usage of any super computer so far. The number 1 in china only needs 4 megawatts.

    So what kind of monster supercomputer are they building?!

    Plus this is for the NSA ... So what kind of Orwellian super computer master plan are they working on now!

    1. Chris Miller


      Those Top 500 figures are the power consumption of the hardware, with no allowance for the inevitable cooling requirements. And they're only the ones people are prepared to go public with - I don't see any existing NSA kit in that list.

      On top of which, you spec the max power of your data centre to handle the largest load you expect to see over its lifetime. You don't want to buy your fancy new ubercomputer, only to be told: sorry that exceeds our power capacity.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up


      Thanks for the information that gives this context.

      A *very* good question.

    3. Andy Barker

      60 Megawatts = 10 x 6 Megawatts

      You are assuming it is a single system. Perhaps they are building a "cloud" of super computers.

      Also does the rating of the top 500 include cooling, personnel power requirements, etc?

    4. Diskcrash

      Shhh it is a secret

      The top 500 public super computers in the world would be more accurate. The NSA and NRO are organizations that provide nor are they required to provide much public detail about their activities. If the NSA was to build or had already built a system capable of being in the 10 it is unlikely that they would ever make that information public.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      "only needs 7 megawatts of power"

      Only? They must have one hell of a kettle in the tea room.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Or they could ask....

    ...the Chinese for some of their kit.

  4. Lockwood

    Nice specs but...

    ...can it play Pacman?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Or Crysis

      That is all.

  5. Chris 15

    well it's pretty obvious

    A replacement for the Black Mesa Research Facility, surely?

  6. Chris Gray 1
    Black Helicopters


    Looks to me like they should build a multi-level parking garage at Fort Meade! Hmm. Perhaps they want all that surface area to *look* like it is just for car parking...

  7. Chimp

    Your old mother

    A very impressive facility which is, however, dwarfed by its carpark. TAKE THE BUS, FFS.

    1. kns2c

      Re: Your old mother

      I'm sure they are taking the bus... a shuttle from the parking lot to the building entrance.

  8. Greemble

    Proof reading?

    "has about 100,000 of data center floor space and comprises over 1 million of total space."

    - I'm sure it's a commonly used unit, but which unit of measurement? 100,000 miles? 1 million carrots?

    "These machines pair the ThreadStorm processors, designed by Burton Smith and James Rottsolk,..."

    - Pair them with what?


    It does make one wonder exactly what they need all this processing power for, though - considering they've not even finished their previous 65 megawatt Salt Lake project

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Under Qualified to answer what they're going to put in, but I'd rather visit this place than disneyland.

  10. TomatoQueen
    Black Helicopters

    point of erm pedantry from across the pond

    NSA is the listening post, sitting up there in the Maryland suburbs, taking it all in. It doesn't do active intelligence/espionage in the field with agents, or "spooks" as you so quaintly call them. That word, btw, has racist connotations and hasn't been in use in a long time. Just call them spies, but only when they work for the CIA.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Spooks... in the UK is commonly used to refer to spies, with no racists overtones.

      I don't recall spooks ever being used in a racist way here although it may well have been. On the other hand, it was used in the past as a derogatory way to describe Spiritualists.

      It may have overtones of racism in the USofA, but then a lot of words have different meanings in that version of english. I did snigger a bit the first time I heard "fanny pack"

      Paris? Well, I'm sure she could burn through 65MW

    2. Tom 13

      "Spooks" is only has racist connotations to overly sensitive people

      who are looking to any excuse to pick a fight. And yes, I live within 30 miles of Ft. Meade.

      Actually, the location probably adds 20 to 30% to the cost of building the new facility compared to the Salt Lake Facility. In these parts, making $65K/year is around the mean wage-wise.

  11. Naughtyhorse


    now THERES a big red switch i'd like to pull

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "which had tens of billions of dollars in spending slashed"

    Just show for the rubes.

    Jack Daniels Explains The Deficit:

  13. Phil Endecott


    > "spooks" as you so quaintly call them. That word, btw, has racist connotations

    Maybe in your language, but not in ours. I'll stop saying Spooks if you stop saying Fanny.

    1. John F***ing Stepp

      Spooks more context.

      U.S. English* does use spook as a racial term.

      But not at this level of discourse.

      At this abstraction level the term spook implies a damn near alien gray (one hopes a more friendly grey colored (coloured) one, because the entire concept of colour becomes somewhat suspect.

      *Ironically, I live within 10 miles of English.

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