Next Mac OS X Upgrade Will Feature Eater-of-Worlds File System

by Mike on 12/22/2006

in Apple Fetish, Best of Release, Perpetual Beta : Release, The End of the World As We Know It, The Joy of Tech

ZFS. Sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? But when Daring Fireball reported that Apple’s OS X 10.5, code-named Leopard, would include support the new file system, I had to do some poking around. Turns out that this method of storing your computer files will bring about Armageddon.

Don’t believe me? Just look:

ZFS is a 128-bit file system, which means it can store 18 billion billion (18.4 × 1018) times more data than current 64-bit systems. The limitations of ZFS are designed to be so large that they will never be encountered in practice. Project leader Bonwick said, “Populating 128-bit file systems would exceed the quantum limits of earth-based storage. You couldn’t fill a 128-bit storage pool without boiling the oceans.”

Boiling the oceans? Holy crap! That’s got to be hyperbole, right? Just an off the cuff remark? Nope. Turns out it’s more like a British-style understatement. Bonwick later elaborated:

Although we’d all like Moore’s Law to continue forever, quantum mechanics imposes some fundamental limits on the computation rate and information capacity of any physical device. In particular, it has been shown that 1 kilogram of matter confined to 1 liter of space can perform at most 1051 operations per second on at most 1031 bits of information [see Seth Lloyd, "Ultimate physical limits to computation." Nature 406, 1047-1054 (2000)]. A fully populated 128-bit storage pool would contain 2128 blocks = 2137 bytes = 2140 bits; therefore the minimum mass required to hold the bits would be (2140 bits) / (1031 bits/kg) = 136 billion kg.

To operate at the 1031 bits/kg limit, however, the entire mass of the computer must be in the form of pure energy. By E=mc², the rest energy of 136 billion kg is 1.2×1028 J. The mass of the oceans is about 1.4×1021 kg. It takes about 4,000 J to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 degree Celsius, and thus about 400,000 J to heat 1 kg of water from freezing to boiling. The latent heat of vaporization adds another 2 million J/kg. Thus the energy required to boil the oceans is about 2.4×106 J/kg * 1.4×1021 kg = 3.4×1027 J. Thus, fully populating a 128-bit storage pool would, literally, require more energy than boiling the oceans.

Look, math is the reason I went to law school instead of doing anything that requires real brains. But this guy is saying that stuffing too much information in this file system will not only boil the oceans, it will leave us with plenty of leftover heat to spare.

Break out the marshmallows – it’s time for a great big ‘Smore!

  • Steve McGann

    lol!
    Great post. And lo it sayeth in the Book of revelation:-
    “If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666″ (Rev. 13:16-18).”

    So if Apple bring out a machine with a Hard Drive capacity of 666GB using ZFS, then that’s it. I’m buying a PC…

    Steve

  • Steve McGann

    lol!
    Great post. And lo it sayeth in the Book of revelation:-
    “If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666″ (Rev. 13:16-18).”

    So if Apple bring out a machine with a Hard Drive capacity of 666GB using ZFS, then that’s it. I’m buying a PC…

    Steve

  • macgeek

    crap, we are all going to die!!!

  • macgeek

    crap, we are all going to die!!!

  • Galactus

    Cower in fear nerds, your pathetic lives and planet are doomed.

    Mine is the power cosmic.

  • Galactus

    Cower in fear nerds, your pathetic lives and planet are doomed.

    Mine is the power cosmic.

  • Brendan

    What are you talking about? The point he was making is that you will nevert be able to fill this file system. It limitations are designed to be so big, so it will be future-proofed. There’s not only no problem here, but this is a better file system. You’re taking shit.

  • Brendan

    What are you talking about? The point he was making is that you will nevert be able to fill this file system. It limitations are designed to be so big, so it will be future-proofed. There’s not only no problem here, but this is a better file system. You’re taking shit.

  • http://perpetualbeta.com/ Mike

    @brendan: You don’t get out of the house much, do you?

  • http://perpetualbeta.com Mike

    @brendan: You don’t get out of the house much, do you?

  • Papa Elk

    On my last trip to the Sea of Tranquility, a singular event occurred. A Watcher drew near. He informed me that the power cosmic would not enter this octant, being as there was a dispute with the herald. Anyway, the Creator would not abide this intrusion, and further, would obfuscate the efforts of the denizens of the planet Earth to arrive at 128 bit for the time.

  • Papa Elk

    On my last trip to the Sea of Tranquility, a singular event occurred. A Watcher drew near. He informed me that the power cosmic would not enter this octant, being as there was a dispute with the herald. Anyway, the Creator would not abide this intrusion, and further, would obfuscate the efforts of the denizens of the planet Earth to arrive at 128 bit for the time.

  • Robert

    Whatever happened to 42?

  • Robert

    Whatever happened to 42?

  • Doctored

    What kind of a question is that?

    You do realise there used to be water on Mars until someone invented computers.

  • Doctored

    What kind of a question is that?

    You do realise there used to be water on Mars until someone invented computers.

  • HelloWorld

    Peace people

    We love you

  • HelloWorld

    Peace people

    We love you

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