nick at leippe.com
Thu Oct 23 17:32:53 MDT 2008
On Thursday 23 October 2008 04:36:23 pm Aaron Toponce wrote:
> Sorry. This is a topic that just drives me nuts. I'll leave it to rest.
> However, I was referring to computing resources. If the secret service
> NSA CIA assembly have X-amount of computing power at their command, I
> would imagine that we have 95% of those resources at our command as
> non-goverment civilians. That's all. In other words, I don't buy the
> common belief that the government has these super-quantum-uber computing
What part about "the NSA measures it's computing power in _acres_" is so
difficult to extrapolate? This fact has been known and acknowledged for quite
some time. While it's exact meaning can certainly be debated, I'll bet you
lunch that a single acre full of commodity hardware all dedicated to watching
*your* data would make you uncomfortable (assuming you had something to hide).
Now, increase that to more than one acre, or replace that acre full of
"commodity hardware" with specialized ASICs, and you begin to see how much
their computing resources really could be said to dwarf most others. Also,
take into account that anyone else that has computing resources in or nearing
the same size class will most likely be dedicating them to whatever purpose
the owners want--after all they foot the bill, which is most probably not
going to be snooping your data or doing what you'd like with it. More likely
crunching geological surveys searching for possible oil deposits, or folding
proteins for drug research. Thus you couldn't really say that those resources
are at our command. Your best bet to actually get to use a large facility
would be within academia--and we all know how well those are typically funded.
I personally have never seen a data center that spanned even half an acre.
This doesn't mean they don't exist, of course. But, how many colos or private
facilities do you know of that are not only larger than an acre, but are also
populated entirely with hardware owned by the same entity? One example: Center
7's newest, and largest colo is only .25 acres. I really don't think there are
going to be that many. The largest are probably the stock exchanges and
banking facilities that handle huge volumes of generated transactional data
and warehouse/mine that data.
Whether the NSA have quantum computers or some class of computing resource
that has not been heard of outside their locked doors is just guessing, and
IMO, I agree, much more unlikely--despite the fact that of all the people on
the planet, if there were such a thing, they'd be the ones to want to have it.
I think it's just a matter of having more of the best available than most
anyone else. Or, replace the comparison "than most anyone else" with "than the
very few other people with a similar agenda that are *not* government-funded"
and I think it gets weighted even heavier.
In short, I think 95% is probably really stretching it. I really do think they
have a significant advantage for their purposes. They have the budget to buy
hardware specialized to their agendas, and in large quantities. Civilian
budgets would have a hard time matching or even approaching those resources.
IMO, 5% is not a significant advantage. What the number is is only a guess,
but I'd say 5% is far too low.
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