The National Security Agency (NSA) is in the information harvesting business — and business is booming.
That’s why the nation’s premier covert intelligence gathering organisation has been building a million square-foot data mining complex in Bluffdale, Utah, that will house a 100,000 square foot “mission critical data centre.”
The NSA’s official mandate is to listen to and decode all foreign communications of interest to the security of the U.S.
But given the fact the NSA already reportedly intercepts 1.7 billion American electronic records and communications a day, it makes sense that they would need to expand operations beyond its sprawling headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland.
The facility, called the Utah Data centre, is located on Camp Williams, a training facility for the Utah National Guard, is set to open in October.
And boy does it seem like an impressive operation.
One Fox News report says as much as 5 zettabytes — 1 zettabyte = 1 billion terabytes = 1 trillion gigabytes — and with just 1 zettabyte of space, the NSA would be able to store more data than is on the global internet.
Here’s James Bamford of Wired, author of the book “The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America“:
“Once it’s operational, the Utah Data centre will become, in effect, the NSA cloud. The centre will be fed data from the agency’s eavesdropping satellites, overseas listening posts, and secret monitoring rooms in telecom facilities throughout the U.S.”
Reams of data will be handled by NSA hackers — who harvest 2.1 million gigabytes of data per hour — as well as the new Titan Supercomputer, which is capable of churning through more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second or 20 petaflops. (1 petaflop = 1 quadrillion instructions per second).
The top-of-the-line tech will be used to analyse foreign and domestic communications — obtained from Americas major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) — in an effort to detect terrorist activity (note: the facility’s precise mission is classified).
Supporting facilities include water treatment facilities, chiller plant, power substations, vehicle inspection facility, visitor control centre, and 60 diesel-fuelled emergency standby generators and fuel facility for a 3-day 100% power backup capability.
The chiller plant will keep the suped-up system from overheating:
Here’s a look at the plans:
And he’s what it looks like today:
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