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What Kind of Cloud Computing Project Costs $32M?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the those-investors-should-be-pissed dept.

Government 158

coondoggie writes "The US Department of Energy said today it will spend $32 million on a project that will deploy a large cloud computing test bed with thousands of Intel Nehalem CPU cores and explore commercial offerings from Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Ultimately, the project, known as Magellan, will look at cloud computing as a cost-effective and energy-efficient way for scientists to accelerate discoveries in a variety of disciplines, including analysis of scientific data sets in biology, climate change and physics, the DOE stated. Magellan will explore whether cloud computing can help meet the overwhelming demand for scientific computing. Although computation is an increasingly important tool for scientific discovery, and DOE operates some of the world's most powerful supercomputers, not all research applications require such massive computing power. The number of scientists who would benefit from mid-range computing far exceeds the amount of available resources, the DEO stated."

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In socialist America (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748183)

Hope changes you (and costs 32M)

Re:In socialist America (1, Funny)

sofar (317980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748507)

The DOE stated.

Re:In socialist America (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749009)

I was wondering if I was the only one who noticed the overuse of that statement.

Re:In socialist America (1)

deathlyslow (514135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749743)

And the final misspelling DEO.

Re:In socialist America (0)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748577)

Or about $0.21 from every tax paying citizen. Once. My God....what a socialist hellscape!

Re:In socialist America (2, Insightful)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748787)

Or about $0.21 from every tax paying citizen. Once. My God....what a socialist hellscape!

Plus the thousands of other reasonable-sounding government funded projects that cost less than a dollar per taxpayer...

Re:In socialist America (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749081)

The difference is those projects usually cost less than a dollar year after year, forever. This one would cost less than a dollar once. Then it would be funded privately.

Re:In socialist America (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749599)

The difference is those projects usually cost less than a dollar year after year, forever. This one would cost less than a dollar once. Then it would be funded privately.

I'd imagine it'll take 3 to 5 centuries to match 6 months of just of one's personal vice habits, ala Starbucks, Cigs, Booze, etc.

Re:In socialist America (1)

Ifni (545998) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748797)

Can I have $.21 from you? Just once, I promise. And no-one else is going to want the same, I assure you.

This is the same reasoning that allows $x.99 to be such a successful marketing ploy. Have you ever heard the phrase nickel and dimed to death? [reference.com]

Re:In socialist America (4, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749019)

I will gladly give you $0.21 if I (and the many generations after me) get something useful in return. Like the Internet infrastructure we are all using right now.

Re:In socialist America (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749629)

I (and the many generations after me) get something useful in return.

That's the real caveat, isn't it? Things like Social Security were great for a few generations, but before long you'll have to be above the average lifespan to collect because it is going broke. Never mind the fact that that single program alone accounts for about 1/3 of the US deficit. Think about that for a minute - you have to be 65 to collect, and the average life span is in the upper 70's. It's 1/3 of our national debt, yet it will only cover a little more than 1/10th the average citizen's lifetime. It's benefiting the current generation at the expense of the next, and it's exactly the sort of thing people are afraid of with any large government spending project.

The real insidious thing is the hundreds, if not thousands of $32 million projects that fail, and we end up paying for with nothing to show for it. They each individually are too small to take much notice (even $32 has me going "meh" as far as size of project to be worried about), but taken together they represent massive waste.

As far as this particular project, the hardware costs are probably not more than $1 million, it will probably cost $5-10 million to design the system, which is justifiable, and then the other $21 million are all administrative costs. Then the project will over-run when the people running the project change their minds halfway through (and then again change their minds back, or just to something completely different), causing the engineering costs to skyrocket, which in turn causes the administrative costs to skyrocket. I wouldn't be all that surprised if this $32 million project ends up costing $70 million. It happens all the time.

Re:In socialist America (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750003)

I agree that the SSA is a system built for 1930's America. But I guess the principle you state of "It's benefiting the current generation at the expense of the next..." I disagree with. I don't know about you but for the first nearly two decades of my life I was wholly dependent on the then current generation to feed, house, and clothe me. And then for the next decade or so after that, they continued to provide me with employment, and subsidize my car insurance and higher education. I guess I feel I feel it's more like repaying the current generation at the expense of the next.

Re:In socialist America (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750231)

It is NOT going broke. That's a myth thats been perpetrated since it's inception.

I remember when I was a teen, it was supposed to ahve been completly over whelmed by 85, then 2000, now it's 2015.
Read up nio the works of the peple that actually study it. It need MINOR adjustment from time to time but it
s not going to collapse.

Well over 99% of all federal project succeed, on time and within budget, and with less waste.

Failed projects do not equal waste.

"the hardware costs are probably not more than $1 million,"
for a project this size? you clearly have no experience building out systems.

We are tlaking about thousands of systems, and good ones not POS bottom of the line Dell's.

You need to pay for the infrastructure. Back bone, racks buildings and other sunk costs.
(Are you lumping this into administrative?)

Now we need people. They are using linux, so probably 1 fte per 200 machines.
Then system design.

Quite frankly, this is a good price for what they nede to do.

Maybe there will be 'cost over runs'. Over runs are often do to provider cost changes. Contract where something is delivered years after the beginning often have a clause to allow more money to cover those costs. I am talking about hard costs, cabling, concrete, etc . . .

The bidest example is rock. The price of rock can be volatile, so it's not uncommon to see bids where they amount paid in the contract is adjusted to cover the providers cost. If you don't do this, bids would be nearly impossible.

"It happens all the time."
no, but the bias is that it does because the 10,000 times it doesn't happen no one says anything.

I was in the private sector for a great many years, in the few years I've been in the public sector o have been constantly amazed at the tight book keeping, the amount of knowledge people have, the accountability, the incredibly high skill set.
Turns out there are very smart, dedicated and qualified people who take a government job becasue they are tired of not having a life.

Re:In socialist America (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750275)

Actually if you understood why SSA is going broke it isn't because of a funding it is because politicaians can't let money sit for time until it's needed.

Basically every up until recently the SSA had been making massive amounts of profits compared to what is paid out. However at the end of the year instead of putting that money safely into a bank account for the next generation to actually use the USA government claimed the money and wrote an IOU to the SSA for said money. our politicians then spent said money on random projects. However we are approaching crunch time for when the money that was supposed to be saved for our future, is going to be needed and the SSA has realized the federal IOU's were written on political toilet paper.

As usual it is careless thinking on politicians that have caused this mess. For whatever reason politicians are the kinds of people who think maxing out your credit cards, and loans is a good way to live.

Re:In socialist America (1)

drig (5119) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750423)

"Never mind the fact that that single program alone accounts for about 1/3 of the US deficit."
Not true. in 2010, SS will add $10B to the deficit. The deficit is projected to be above $1T, resulting in SS being 1%, not 33% as you claim, of the US deficit.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h6BfoloJOnV0TeI7eIHC1ZWuBxygD9AVLTVO0

"Think about that for a minute - you have to be 65 to collect, and the average life span is in the upper 70's"
Average life span is a tricky measure. Many people die as the very young or as teenagers. A much smaller percentage of people die between 18 and 80. If you've started work, there's a better than even chance of you collecting your social security.

Re:In socialist America (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749307)

Sounds like the old John Earling ("Earling in the Morning") routine on KRMG. He was making fun of Oral Roberts, but it was, "Send me your dimes. If everyone within the sound of my voice would send me a single dime, I would be a millionaire, and you would be only a dime short."

Re:In socialist America (4, Insightful)

condour75 (452029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749021)

and remember, kids: this thread was brought to you by a 40-year-old DARPA project.

Re:In socialist America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749615)

I don't know where you are but it was brought to me by Comcast. Last month's bill for $80 confirms it.

Re:In socialist America (4, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749487)

In socialist America, children go to school and learn something useful, everyone has healthcare, the entire planet doesn't see the US as a meddling bully that resorts to violence to solve all of its problems, and technology is seen as an opportunity rather than a nuisance. Oh, the horror!

Re:In socialist America (2, Informative)

chucklebutte (921447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749737)

I came a little after reading this.

Re:In socialist America (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750171)

you're welcome.
send the check to 1 Lenin rd., Stalingrad, RU 82317.

I assume this doesn't just include the cloud . . . (2, Funny)

base3 (539820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748223)

. . . but also the rest of the sky including the moon and the stars.

Large Magellanic Cloud (4, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748671)

Just call it the Large Magellanic Cloud

Re:I assume this doesn't just include the cloud . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749977)

Right probably includes
1) the cloud (i.e. all the equipment, 100GbE stuff isn't cheap)
2) the facility (that equipment has to be somewhere, even if it is a "cloud")
2a) that includes all the costs to run new utilities to the building, they don't just have buildings laying around ready to drop something like this in.
3) the power/cooling budget
4) manpower budget to set everything up
5) manpower budget to maintain and operate it

Plus it is the government so they will piss away a chunk of it.

It is always disheartening how many people have no clue what it really takes to pull off a large scale project, they think because they have a couple computers networked together in their basement it can't be that hard.

Erm (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748235)

This is the government.

What kind of [random project variable here] project costs less than $32m?

Re:Erm (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748475)

You mean, what kind of [random project variable needing the levels of accountability and ass-covering that only $32m can provide] project costs less than $32m?

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748493)

I didn't know there was any other kind...

Re:Erm (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749491)

There is a recession going on.

Perhaps DOE thinks this their private stimulus package.

Still, when all the screaming and whining is over and Microsoft has fired promoted the guilty at Danger, can it still be said that 32Million would have been too costly?

oh oh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748241)

"The number of scientists who would benefit from mid-range computing far exceeds the amount of available resources, the DEO stated."

This sounds like one of those far-fetched statements that more realistically would be answered as "eleventy-billion."

Re:oh oh (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749551)

*shuffles papers*
We have recalculated the cost as ...... what? ... uhm... eleventyone-billion dollars. Geeze-Louise Rick this can't be right are you sure?
Yup -- had Stan check them over twice.

STAN!! What the hell he works in housekeeping.

Wrong question. (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748257)

The question is not "What kind of cloud computing project costs $32M?" The question is "Is research into the benefits of cloud computing worth $32M?"

As with many multi-million research grants, it looks less like valuable research and more like a handout.

Re:Wrong question. (2, Funny)

turtleAJ (910000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748307)

What Kind of Cloud Computing Project Costs $32M?

Obviously, a Beowulf cluster of clouds! Maybe we can call it Hurricane Computing!

Re:Wrong question. (1)

elvum (9344) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750131)

This is the DoE - how about Mushroom Cloud computing?

Re:Wrong question. (2, Funny)

thefear (1011449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748377)

As with many multi-million research grants, it looks less like valuable research and more like a handout.

Frankly I`m just suprised that the US government has a whole department dedicated to wasting energy.

Re:Wrong question. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748433)

Frankly I`m just suprised that the US government has a whole department dedicated to wasting energy.

Sorry to break it to you, but most government departments are dedicated to wasting energy.

-jcr

Re:Wrong question. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748639)

I don't follow. Handouts are good. We are in a liquidity trap. We have massive unemployment and a 0% interest rate. Perhaps cloud computing isn't what we should spend money on. However, the $32 million those people get for building cloud computing will very likely be spent on what those people should spend money on. Until we can raise interest rates (due to improved employment), you are either pro-government spending on crap like this, or you are a gold bug. And if you are a gold bug, you should *still* be in support of crap like this until we are either out of our liquidity trap, or we are on a gold standard. So what's the problem?

Re:Wrong question. (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748857)

I don't follow. Handouts are good. We are in a liquidity trap.

I've never heard the term "liquidity trap" before, but yes, we do need the government to pump more money into the economy.

However, there are much more effective ways, such as improving infrastructure (see 1930s and the building projects). More jobs are created for the same amount of cash (although lower salaries as they are blue color; still means less people filing unemployment). Less money is spent on products made overseas (you make your concrete locally, but those server parts are coming from Asia). More roads are built or updated, which help the rest of the economy.

Re:Wrong question. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749131)

Clearly we should do those things first. However, those things being a better expenditure do not make this thing a bad expenditure.

Re:Wrong question. (3, Insightful)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748723)

The right question is who cares when the NSA is spending $2 billion [nybooks.com] just on the structure for a building (1 million square feet big) to house computers which will do who knows what for signals intelligence. Not to mention another facility in San Antonio being built which will be the size of the Alomodome.

Let's not care about that but nitpick over something ~1% the size and far less destructive to our liberties.

Re:Wrong question. (4, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750291)

They have to have somewhere to park the black helicopters

It's Mushroom Cloud Research, not computer cloud (-1, Offtopic)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748763)

This is the DOE. They mainly work on nukes, and if they're experimenting with cloud computing, it's not because they're trying to do commercial or academic work into cloud computing, it's because they're trying to find powerful and cost-effective ways to get the computing horsepower they need to work on more nukes, just as when they work with supercomputers, it's not just because they're "Imagining what they can do with a Cray", it's because they're trying to solve problems that are really that big.

So, like, back off man, they're scientists!

Or don't back off,. because they're developing weapons as well as civilian power applications, but don't confuse tool-building with pork barrel.

Re:It's Mushroom Cloud Research, not computer clou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749319)

We need an "Uninformative" or "Disinformation" mod.

Re:It's Mushroom Cloud Research, not computer clou (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750189)

Here's a DOE Lab site [sandia.gov] . Fargin' Iceholes!

Depends ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748285)

Hardware is not the only thing to consider. Think about all those software companies that license their stuff per core. "Thousands of cores" at $3,000 per core for software adds up.

Re:Depends ... (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748777)

Not really. Pretty much all the big cloud computing companies build on open source, not just because it is cheaper, but because it is also better suited for the task / more adaptable.

The application software for big science related calculations isn't exactly off the shelf either, most of it is custom made.

Once you put together this kind of project, you can also hire some developers to build a software that runs on it, and are no longer restricted by home / small business development / deployment barriers.

Government Spending (4, Informative)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748305)

You know, usually I'm against most government spending programs. They tend to be a huge waste.

But this... It sounds interesting and could actually benefit basic research- something this country sorely needs to support. My (perhaps incorrect) observation is that some groups like the DOE and DARPA tend to allocate funds to valuable research projects rather than pissing money away on terrible administrative database implementations. I guess I should keep in mind that the majority of DOE funding is used to build and maintain our nuclear weapons fleet.

Re:Government Spending (-1, Troll)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748393)

The government has no authority from the constitution to do this. When will the U.S.A. wake up and understand this?

Re:Government Spending (1, Insightful)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748615)

And when will everyone wake up and realize that the government isn't granted authority by the constitution it is RESTRICTED by the constitution. I.e People are not granted free speech, the government is not supposed to make a law restricting speech etc. Thus the government is allowed to do everything except what the constitution prevents it from doing.

I will now take this time to promote my agenda. Every gun law is unconstitutional. Thanks.

Re:Government Spending (1)

Sebastian Moran (1525959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748761)

No the Constitution is what allows the government to function. The government can only legally do what the Constitution says it can, nothing more.

Re:Government Spending (1)

int69h (60728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749285)

You are definitely in the minority w/ that interpretation of intent. If your interpretation was indeed correct, they could have saved a lot of ink by just leaving out all clauses but 3 and 18 in Article 1, Section 8.

Sadly in practice you're correct.

Re:Government Spending (2, Insightful)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749441)

And when will everyone wake up and realize that the government isn't granted authority by the constitution it is RESTRICTED by the constitution.

Actually, the constitution both grants and restricts the government. Congress has the authority to pass laws because the constitution grants it. The President is the commander-in-chief because the constitution grants him that authority. The constitution also restricts the scope of these powers by drawing (often vague) boundaries around those powers.

Whether individuals are granted freedoms by the constitution is often a controversial statement. When people get nominated by the Supreme Court, they are often asked if they believe there is a "right to privacy". If you think rights are granted by the constitution, then you kind of have to say no because it clearly does not say that. On the other hand, there is a line of thinking that says that individuals have inherent rights (the Declaration of Independence makes that argument) and so the constitution need not grant those rights. The bill of rights in the constitution protects those rights by explicitly constraining the government. In that thinking, a "right to privacy" may very well exist.

Re:Government Spending (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750481)

funny, you were SO close.
The 2nd amendment is about the federal government can, and in the case can not do.

Meaning no where in the constitution is their a provision forcing the states to allow a right to bear arms. (amendment 10)

When taken i historical context, the 2nd admendment is even relevant anymore sice we are no longer afraid of standing armies, and have a nation guard.

That said I believe in gun ownership,and I also think a waiting period is a good thing.

Re:Government Spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749085)

To promote the progress of science and useful arts?

Re:Government Spending (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749107)

Actually this is very reasonable. They are building their own cloud instead of maintaining many departmental clusters.
The cost is to build their own cloud that can managed and probably secured.
That is why it costs so much.

Re:Government Spending (3, Insightful)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749209)

The DOE and DARPA (and others) are huge users of HPC (high performance computing) applications. The have a vested interest in having the state of the art advance in parallel computing and so they tend to provide lots of research grants to fund that. They also routinely let outsiders use some of their computing facilities for the same reason (not all of their labs do classified work). There are many computing facilities that need enormous computing power as shown on the Top 500 list. [top500.org] But they are seeing that there are times where researchers need computational power, but not at such a large scale and not for long periods of time. If medium powered computational facilities could be made available to researchers cheaply and quickly, they would be widely used.

Re:Government Spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749289)

Most of the "waste" of government funded programs is caused by people doing their jobs properly. There are different priorities in government work, is something reliable, safe, secure. Most of the outrageous stories you hear about government waste are from contractors screwing the taxpayer, often with the complicity of corrupt politicians and not government employees.

In private industry the bottom line is money, money and money. So people cut corners and spend more effort on creating the illusion of reliability, safety and security rather than actually providing those things.

Re:Government Spending (1)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749573)

Your right on being against government spending programs. In fact, everything outside of maintaining national defense, diplomacy, and a few other well defined functions of federal (not national) government, are done so poorly that continuing to dump money into them is the definition of insanity. In fact, our Federal government is so bad at doing things its not suppose to do... that it cannot even do them within the frame of directly collected tax revenue (see deficit spending). For example, if we cut Social spending at a federal level (see the Constitution, reference Federalist 41 by Madison or Declaration 17 by Jefferson to dismiss the liberal myth about the "general welfare" clause)... we wouldnt need to borrow money anymore, and could start repaying the debt!!!

If there was such a great need for available cloud computing, why arent data centers popping up all over the place to support the need? 32 million dollars (equiv. to 6GBP or 10 Euro's) wont pay for more than salaries and the compete process.

Repeat after me (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748357)

The "cloud" does not exist. It's a buzzword for client-server, nothing more.

Move along.

Re:Repeat after me (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748479)

Yeah, when I saw the headline I was prepared for a trainwreck, but this actually sounds like a really good government project. The ultimate Beowulf cluster, at the disposal of all scientists in the nation.

Large Magellanic Cloud (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748367)

Clearly they're trying to create the Large Magellanic Cloud [wikipedia.org] .

If they simulate nuclear reactions... (5, Funny)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748379)

...would that be mushroom cloud computing?

$32 million? (5, Insightful)

condour75 (452029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748503)

With that much money they could get a quarter of an F-22 fighter jet! How dare they spend it on research?

Re:$32 million? (0, Flamebait)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748855)

This bring up a good fucking point. Who the fuck cares about $32 million going to something useful. The government gets invoices for $500 for a screwdriver and they pay up (documented somewhere). We spend millions on each bomb dropped. The $700 billion it is going to cost to reform health care is "not important" according to the democrats. And we are bitching about $32 million that is going towards research that could be useful. Don't get me wrong I think the best way to cut government spending is to look at the details, like the $500 screwdriver thing, but for an organization as big as the US governemnt, spending $32 mill towards research that could save many times more in the future seems like a sound investment.

I really wish people would pick apart all of government spending as critically as this tiny drop in the bucket. I guess it is a much easier task to look at tiny projects and point out flaws but accepting a multibillion dollar proposal with little evidence or proof that it will work is fine.

Re:$32 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749381)

You assume the people bitching about this aren't also bitching about spending in Defense and in Health Care. The difference being only one even approaches constitutionally allowed.

Re:$32 million? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750519)

correction:
documented somewhere
should be:
documented no where.

"The $700 billion it is going to cost to reform health care is "not important" according to the democrats."
no democrat has said that. they have said it will pay for itself. And from reading the bills, it looks like it will.

"I really wish people would pick apart all of government spending as critically as this tiny drop in the bucket."

I have, and do. it's not nearly as basd as people think, in act it's a hell of a lot better then private industry.

Re:$32 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749093)

...and keep 25% of your cynical peace-luvin' ass from being blown off by a napsack bomb on your morning mass transit event...

"I love the smell of dead Al Qaeda in the morning. It reminds me of... urban serenity."

- NYC

Re:$32 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749193)

Interesting point, how many people die in traffic accidents on their morning commute? Yeah, retard you are.

Just use boinc (0)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748505)

They should just attach to the boinc project, or a SETI like project. But I suppose they wouldn't sensitive data being copied all over the world.

SETI vs. Top500 supercomputing (1, Redundant)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748875)

SETI works on what gets described in the trade as "embarrassingly parallel" problems - supercomputers deal with stuff that's harder to get good parallel speedup without throwing fancy hardware at it. DOE problems are often somewhere in between, and unfortunately the boinc/seti/screensaver approach to ad-hoc supercomputing isn't always good for applications like LINPAK, so it's hard to compare the real computing power. However, if you ignore that (:-), most of the top computers in the Top500 list are doing nuclear or military work, and some are for weather bureaus or Earth simulation, but about half of the last decade, the SETI people are volunteering 2-10x as much CPU just to look for little green men as the largest military supercomputers were providing. The supercomputer guys are back on top, and I don't know that we'll catch up with them again, but on the other hand some of them are now doing genetics and other Good Things instead of Evil.

Re:SETI vs. Top500 supercomputing (1)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749255)

I just wanted to say thanks for putting genetics in Good Things.

Re:SETI vs. Top500 supercomputing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29750237)

Oh, I know somebody that has a problem with doing that inappropriately. Ruined a perfectly good vacuum cleaner...

Re:Just use boinc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29748987)

SETI actually is a part of BOINC now.

Just thought you should know.

Re:Just use boinc (1)

scheme (19778) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749311)

BOINC doesn't work so well if the tasks need to download 10-20 GB of data and the actual applications running the job take up another 10GB of space and the jobs run full out on a system for 2-3 days while consuming 2GB of memory.

Re:Just use boinc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29750253)

GB? Such a quaint unit, and the same is becoming true of TB, but scheme is correct. There are projects out there where only the RAM is measured in GB (as in 16+GB) and datasets are measured in hundreds of TB, if not PB or larger. Back in 2003, I worked on a project which was producing 1TB/day with a prototype, and today, some projects are or will soon be producing data in excess of 40TB/day. At such dataset sizes, even moving the data around in a single computer is expensive. Just take a look at the recent work of Ivan Sutherland (of Evans & Sutherland fame), and the Asynchronous Research Center (ARC) at Portland State University. And that does not even address having to do things like doing FFTs, nearest neighbour searches, etc. for the data.

And one other problem...besides the download times involved (even with a connection to the NLR or similar backbones), DOE and DOD have datasets and algorithms which cannot just be farmed out.

"What Kind of Cloud Computing Project Costs $32M?" (3, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748545)

The kind where the company who receives the contract is located in a particular Representative's district.

Salary (1)

Eharley (214725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748555)

I imagine a large portion of that cost are salaries.

Re:Salary (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748633)

Obviously you don't work for the U.S. Government or one of its contractors...

Re:Salary (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748655)

Well, it says thousands of Nehalems, and 1-2000 will easily cost 1,000,000 for the processors alone, so the hardware could easily be 5 million.

Re:Salary (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750339)

Assuming $5M is hardware and purchased software, the remaining $27 million would get you about 150 FTE years at government salaries, benefits, and overhead rates. Assuming the project is 3 years in duration, that's 50 FTEs, which seems high for doing something of this scope. Maybe they are planning to build a building to house it.

The trouble with supercomputing (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748601)

The trouble with supercomputing is that, if you have to share the thing, you don't need it.

Supercomputers are worth the trouble if there are applications that need hours or days of time. But if you have many users sharing the thing, it's a waste. Price/performance tends to be maximized towards the upper end of mainstream machines. Supercomputers, with their custom hardware, tend to have lower price/performance than commodity machines. That's why web farms are made of commodity hardware.

Depends on the problem (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748915)

There are problems which really need high memory bandwidth and don't fit on smaller-than-super computers, so a time slice on a supercomputer can be worth far more than full-time access to dedicated fast conventional computers. But those problems become less and less common as regular computers get bigger and faster - your laptop probably has a graphics processor that's faster than a Cray-2 by now...

24th Post (1)

cadeon (977561) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748609)

... the DOE stated.

Cloud Computing Joke (2, Funny)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748735)

What's the bright side of cloud computing?

When the cloud goes down, it's a bright and sunny day.

$32,000,000... (2, Insightful)

corychristison (951993) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748753)

... sounds like a walk in the park compared to their other spending. I think that number is off by a factor of 100 or so.

In contrast, my small city (~40,000 people) in central Canada is spending ~$56,000,000 on a new Multiplex/Sports center. Supposed to have a new hockey rink, curling rinks, soccer area's with artificial turf.

I'd my city council spend it on a Cloud Computing Centre.

Re:$32,000,000... (3, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748803)

I'd my city council spend it on a Cloud Computing Centre.

And schools to [intentionally left blank] how to use verbs in sentences.

Re:$32,000,000... (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749033)

Hey, be nice... I'd my city, and accidentally all over the how to what too!

Re:$32,000,000... (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750133)

Not that basic research isn't a great thing, but a sports center, properly funded and located, generates income and doesn't need to be recycled every 3-4 years.

But I bet you'll find cheaper hot dogs at the Cloud Computing Center. Or centre.

Imagine (1)

Dorsai65 (804760) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748785)

Beowulf cluster of....

Oh, wait...

Never mind.

Extra cost of materials (1)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748807)

The specifications for that cloud include a silver lining.

Is not cloud (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748839)

is smoke, and the project was titled "Burning 32 millons"

How about Air Traffic Control? (3, Interesting)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 4 years ago | (#29748905)

When the last ATC project failed disastrously, people were already playing online games over phone modems. Now we have massively multiplayer games, with gigahertz hardware dedicated to each user (your PC, that is), and ATC is still being done on single mainframes. Quick scan suggests six thousand planes in the air at a time over the US; let's call it ten thousand. Dedicate a CPU to each plus some hierarchy of busy areas and regional control; allow $1000 per CPU/system (and its share of comm bandwidth); call it $10 million. Sounds like an interesting project. :-)

BOINC? (1)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749027)

We already have a platform to do this - BOINC. We've been wasting megawatts on SETI for years. Perhaps we should turn the search closer to home and just search for terrestrial intelligence, but that could be equally futile.

What cloud project costs 32 M$? (1)

just fiddling around (636818) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749041)

Easy: the one where you are building the cloud.

Makes sense to me!

#irc.trolltalk.c0m (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29749137)

get how people can BSD had become le5son and the project 7o [nero-online.org] we all know, you're told. It's need to scream that They learn from our

cloudy? (1)

doctormetal (62102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749295)

As the saying goes: keep your feet on the ground instead of your head in the clouds.

Every cloud has a silver lining... (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749427)

..although for $32 million, this cloud probably has a Tantalum lining!

Re:Every cloud has a silver lining... (1)

FrozenGeek (1219968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750001)

Drat. You beat me to it.

the cloud jokes arent funny but the impending doom (1)

flahwho (1243110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29749637)

...is upon the clouds! Sounds more like distributive computing rather than online storage/file hosting which is really all cloud computing will amount to

What Kind of Cloud Computing Project Costs $32M? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750307)

One that includes Microsoft

Costs (1)

awitod (453754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29750347)

What kind? The kind that requires a building that sits on land and is full of hardware.
$32 million isn't that much when you consider that.

Here is an estimate for an empty 80000 square foot office building with no contents and no land. ~$12 million.

http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/rsmeans/models/offices3/ [reedconstructiondata.com]

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