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21st Century VAX

ACM Queue - A Conversation with Jim Gray

What do you do with a 200-gig disk drive? You treat a lot of it as tape. You use it for snapshots, write-anywhere file systems, log-structured file systems, or you just zone frequent stuff in one area and try to waste the other 190 GB in useful ways. Of course, we could put the Library of Congress holdings on it or 10,000 movies, or waste it in some other way. I am sure that people will find creative ways to use all this capacity, but right now we do not have a clear application in mind. Not many of us know what to do with 1,000 20-terabyte drives.

I know what you do. When you have a 200Gb drive you stop cleaning out your 40Gb drive. Nothing gets deleted anymore, because there's no need (for a while).

This could change lots of things. Like files. Files on your computer are the way they are because they were designed to be space optimal. That's why you can delete them, compress them, move them, defragment them, change them, destroy them. Think of all the OS technology and software applications built on the assumption that files are digital plasticine. It's all the OS technology and software applications. Now imagine a file system where you never deleted anything, where every write was a new version linked to the past version, where a file was really the name of a tree of files.

[Bill Grosso: We're all Gelernter now]

July 30, 2003 12:25 AM


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