IBM's Gift For Data Storage: Six Terabytes

by Robert Sanders

IBM has given a big boost to Berkeley's digital library research project with the donation of a data storage system valued at nearly three quarters of a million dollars with a capacity of more than six terabytes.

The nationally funded digital library project needs the storage capacity to provide online access to a plethora of ground and aerial photos, maps and other visuals pertaining to the California environment. Goals are to create a demonstration online library of California environmental information and design elements of a "next-generation" digital library.

"This new storage system will help us investigate an important issue: How to use large storage efficiently to make all this material readily available on-line to the user," said project director Robert Wilensky, professor and head of the computer science division.

The donated system includes an RS/6000 workstation; 96 gigabytes of magnetic disk storage that use the fast new Serial Storage Architecture; plus 6-18 terabytes of Magstar tape storage. The tape unit operates like a jukebox: tapes of digital information are automatically loaded into the player when needed.

IBM researchers will be evaluating how the relatively high proportion of hard disks at the Berkeley project speeds access to very large blocks of data or images. Such information will help the company design its IBM Digital Library products.

The Berkeley Digital Library project is a four-year, $4 million research project that includes faculty, staff and students in the Computer Science Division, the School of Information Management and Systems, and the Research Program in Environmental Planning and Geographic Information Systems, as well as several state and local agencies and industrial partners.

The project goal is to develop technologies for access to multiple databases of photos, satellite images, videos, maps, full text documents and what Wilensky calls "multivalent" documents containing some or all of the above.

It is funded by a joint initiative of NSF, the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NASA. A demonstration is available on the World Wide Web at


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