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Home > iSGTW 6 August 2008 > iSGTW Feature - Chronopolis

Feature - Chronopolis

By storing data digitally on Chronopolis, the equivalent of 2.5 million trees' worth of paper will be saved.

Image courtesy of Roly Powderhill,

How do you store 50 terabytes of archived data across a wide range of domains, and save 2.5 million trees worth of paper to boot?

Digitally, with Chronopolis.

Formally called the Chronopolis Digital Preservation Demonstration Project and funded by the Library of Congress , the project is being run by The San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, and partner institutions, which includes the UC San Diego Libraries, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, and the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Together, they are building a scalable nationwide grid infrastructure that can be expanded at any time to meet the needs of the data providers.

The system uses data scattered across the country. 

Image courtesy of Chronopolis  

Long-term preservation

Members in the partnership will each operate a grid node containing at least 50 terabytes of storage capacity to house the project’s entire collection, making multiple copies available across the country. At each partner site, Chronopolis will use existing high-speed educational and research networks as well as mass-scale storage infrastructure, including storage space, servers, and front-end machines.

Each site will use its own brand of hardware, enabling Chronopolis to provide long-term data preservation that does not rely on just one brand. The project will also use data management software already installed at the partner institutions to create the grid and monitor the flow of information between the partner sites.

Institutions providing data for Chronopolis include the University of Michigan’s Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the University of North Carolina Geospatial Data Archiving Project, the California Digital Library, and the UC San Diego Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

By tracking the data in Chronopolis every step of the way, the partnership can not only guarantee the information remains safe, but can also guarantee its authenticity and availability to researchers for years to come, says SDSC manager David Minor. “We have the capacity for a much larger set of data than is typically worked with in the preservation community,” Minor says. “Not only are we looking at how to house that much data, but how can we move it across the country as quickly and effectively as possible so that each different copy is safe and up to date with all of the other copies.”

—Amelia Williamson, iSGTW


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