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.
DISC points the way to new ways of organizing large-scale computing systems to be more robust, scalable, and cost effective than are current high-performance computing systems.