The Pipeline

Care for a little light reading?

A typical feature-length article in Federal Computer Week starts as a word processor document clocking in at 25K to 35K.

A new database system from Objectivity could hold more than 33 quadrillion of them. But nobody has the time to read so many words.

Objectivity's database, called Objectivity/DB 9.0, can scale into the exabyte range, according to company leaders. An exabyte is about 1 quintillion bytes, an almost unimaginably vast amount of information. According to Wikipedia, the total amount of printed material in the world is estimated at about 5 exabytes, and that includes all the Harry Potter novels.

"The previous release was all about ease of use," said Leon Guzenda, Objectivity's chief technology officer. "The one before that was about performance. This one is all about scalability."

Objectivity specializes in object-oriented databases, which store data elements as discrete units. The units can then be mined and connected in any number of ways, depending on the customer's needs.

Although few places generate exabytes of data now, Objectivity regional sales manager Richard Shelley said that is likely to change.

"Whenever you think about the way things are now, you have to think what it's going to be like five years from now," he said.

The 8.0 release of the system broke through the petabyte barrier, or 1 quadrillion bytes, and could take in more than 32 terabytes, or 32 trillion bytes, per day, Guzenda said. The latest release can take in more than 100 terabytes per day, he added.

"And of real significance to our customers, as well as the market generally, this can be accomplished on standard industry hardware," he said.

Calling Capt. Kirk

If the science fiction universe of Star Trek's warp drive ever becomes real, Fujitsu Computer Systems may have a hand in it.

The company is making fast servers. Officials recently announced five new servers in the Primepower line that are based on Sun Microsystems' Sparc64 RISC processors, which run faster than 2 GHz. In Star Trek terms, that's like leaving Capt. Archer's Enterprise (from the recently canceled spinoff of the same name) and reporting for duty aboard Capt. Kirk's faster ship.

One of the top-of-the-line servers, a Primepower 2500 with 128 2.08 GHz processors, set a world record for the SAP Sales and Distribution benchmark by serving 21,000 users with an average dialogue response time of 1.91 seconds and processing 2.1 million orders per hour. That is 1.6 times the performance of an earlier computer running at 1.2 GHz.

Customers currently using Primepower servers can add new machines at whatever pace makes sense for them, said Tom Donnelly, Primepower product manager at Fujitsu. There's no need to wait for an opportunity to upgrade an entire department.

"We have a very significant customer base among the Fortune 1000 companies," he said. "We have some very significant government customers, too."

One agency has already placed an order for the new products, he said, and others are looking closely.

"A lot of customers need the extra performance, and that's one of the main things they're going to get," he said.

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