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Big Deal

6:15 PM -- The Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) unveiled plans for a 1.4-Pbyte science project today that is aimed at better understanding early childhood cognitive development. (See MIT to Construct Giant IP SAN.)

The so-called Human Speechome Project will collect and analyze video and audio data. It will also help determine if startup Zetera's technology is ready for a closeup.

Besides the size, the unusual thing about the MIT system is that there's no Fibre Channel to be found in the system. Or iSCSI, for that matter. To support 1 Pbyte, the massive IP SAN will consist of more than 3,000 Seagate SATA drives, 100 Marvell 10-Gbit/s Ethernet switches, Bell Microproducts 300 Hammer Z-Rack storage enclosures, and around 400 blade processors.

The system is based on Zetera's Z-SAN IP technology, an Ethernet alternative to iSCSI. (See Proprietary Gear Seeks Foothold and Bell Intros Z-SAN Family.) Zetera uses the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) instead of TCP, which is the basis for iSCSI. The protocol enables RAID without a specialized controller. (See Zetera Rewrites iSCSI and Zetera Unveils New Storage Solutions.)

So, along with a better understanding of cognitive development, the system may prove something about Zetera's approach: namely whether it's worthy of more than the low-end commercial products it has been used for so far.

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