Data-Intensive Scalable Computing: Taking Google-Style Computing Beyond Web Search
Web search engines have become fixtures in our society, but few people realize that they are actually publicly accessible supercomputing systems, where a single query can unleash the power of several hundred processors operating on a data set of over 200 terabytes. With Internet search, computing has risen to entirely new levels of scale, especially in terms of the sizes of the data sets involved. Google and its competitors have created a new class of large-scale computer systems, which we label "Data-Intensive Scalable Computer" (DISC) systems. DISC systems differ from conventional supercomputers in their focus is on data: they acquire and maintain continually changing data sets, in addition to performing large-scale computations over the data.
With the massive amounts of data arising from such diverse sources as telescope imagery, medical records, online transaction records, and web pages, DISC systems have the potential to achieve major advances in science, health care, business, and information access. DISC opens up many important research topics in system design, resource management, programming models, parallel algorithms, and applications. By engaging the academic research community in these issues, we can more systematically and in a more open forum explore fundamental aspects of a societally important style of computing.